Exploring oil spills

Cheryl Greengrove, Elizabeth Malcolm, Kevin Theissen
U of Washington-Tacoma, Virginia Wesleyan College, University of St. Thomas
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This activity combines a hands-on demonstration and a follow-up homework assignment designed for students to investigate oil spill clean-up.

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Introductory oceanography for majors and non-majors

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

  • Basic web browsing; surf and sort on the web
  • Map reading; spatial interpretation
  • Synthesis

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a stand-alone exercise


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Content: oil spills, impact on marine animals, spill mitigation and environmental clean-up.
Concepts: environmental problem solving, model observation, analysis, and designs

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

  • Analysis of data, formulation of hypotheses

Other skills goals for this activity

  • Writing
  • Searching the web

Description of the activity/assignment

In this activity, students first take part in an in-class hands-on activity on the impact of an oil spill and the remediation process. Students must first figure out how to clean up a modeled spill. Students then are given a homework assignment where they use web resources on large global oil spills and they must come up with a statement of the potential impact in different ocean environments.(wetland/estuary, rocky, high-energy, open ocean).

Determining whether students have met the goals

Written paper is graded based on depth of investigation.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Exxon Valdez spill and remediation: http://www.evostc.state.ak.us
EPA website on spills: http://www.epa.gov/oilspill
International Tanker Owners Pollution Federal Limited: