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Lesson Plan Template

Activity Guide 1
Objectives and Goals
Kids will demonstrate critical thinking skills
Connect activity to real world problems

Materials Needed
Aluminum trays
Vegetable Oil
Cotton balls
Small cups

Pre-Critical Thinking Questions

How do we get oil?
What is an oil spill?
How would an oil spill affect others?

During this activity a miniature oil spill will be created in aluminum
trays in which the kids will have to work together to clean up the oil. They
will be given cleaning supplies such as Q-tips, cotton balls, and sponges to
help them get the oil out of the water and clean feathers which represent the
animal life found in the wild.

Oil can become hard to clean up once it is spilled and causes a chain
effect. Several people work together in order to help solve disasters such as
oil spills, chemical and environmental engineers help build things that can
clean up oil spills.

Post-Critical Thinking Questions

Can you think of other ways you could have tried to clean up the oil?
Over all, what did you learn, do you have any questions?

Breaking It Down
1.) Kids will need to be placed in groups in order to work effectively
depending on the age and skill level of the students.
*this project can be set up as a science lab and students may want to
conduct research on oil spills.
2.) Each group should be given the necessary cleaning supplies to
separate the oil from the water. Cleaning supplies include sponges,
spoons, cotton balls, and Q-tips. The students will use these items to
attempt to remove as much oil from the aluminum tray as possible
without removing the water.
3.) It is extremely important that the water and oil poured into the
aluminum trays are equal in each group so results from each team can
be compared.
*It is easier to have small aluminum trays for each group of students
with 1/3 a cup of cheaper oil such as vegetable oil for every 1 cup of
4.) Have students predict which tools will have the biggest effect on oil
5.) Have students use their cleaning tools to clean up the oil and put it in a
plastic cup.
*make sure the cup is big enough to hold all the oil poured into the
aluminum tray.
6.) When students are finished their results should be recorded.
Depending on the age group students may want to measure the
amount of water they have managed to conserve or record which tools
worked best and what didnt work or draw before and after pictures.

*best for students in 5th and 6th grade

Relation to the SOL

Relation to science: An oil spill lab uses the scientific method
(scientific investigation, reasoning, and logic) students can make
hypotheses, observations, and record results.
Relation to math: this experiment measures the amount of water
and oil which can be carried out using the metric or U.S. customary
system (measurement).
Alternate option
For younger age group or something less messy try a twist on an old classic;
sink or float with water and oil. Because vegetable oil and water do not mix it
makes a great exciting new game for students to participate in. All you need
is a see through container with one cup of water and one cup of vegetable oil
poured into it for kids to see. Then simply have children guess which items
will sink to the bottom, float on top, or sink into the oil and sit on top of the
*most plastics sink in vegetable oil but float on water
*paper clips and pennies sink as well as food coloring
* hand sanitizer, wood, and marsh-mellows float
*if you want to record guesses using a table and tally marks on paper
or a white board can be very effective.
*best for kids from second grade to fourth grade