Thursday, February 26, 2015

When Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies Collide!

When Language Arts and Science collide with Social Studies, wonderful things can happen!

Today we conducted a little experiment to accompany our lesson about the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.  Here are the details in case you'd like to do the same...
These are the supplies we needed: 2 cups of water, vegetable oil, 2 feathers, 2 cotton balls, a permanent marker, and paper plate.  
After reading a comprehension passage about the Exxon Valdez disaster (found in my Polar Regions unit) and visiting National Geographic online to see and discuss photos of the spill and clean up (, it was time for our own classroom oil spill.

The students generated ideas about how an oil spill could impact animals living in an Arctic habitat.  Then we added an Arctic animal (cotton ball) and an Arctic bird (feather) to Prince William Sound (cups of water).  Time for the spill...we added several tablespoons of vegetable oil to 1 cup and not to the other.  We labeled these cups accordingly.

While students answered questions about the Exxon Valdez reading passage that we had read earlier in the lesson, we watched and waited.  Just look at what we discovered!  
The students were shocked by the impact of the oil on the "fur" and "feathers" in just a matter of minutes.    We removed the feathers and cotton balls and placed them in 2 labeled sections of a paper plate.  Students were then given the opportunity to touch and feel the difference...this made such an impression on them!

I love when hands-on learning leads to real understanding and learning connections!  Want more ideas like these?  My polar unit is available at

1 comment:

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