Oil Spill Simulation

I spent the first four weeks of my summer working at a summer program at school. The students did different types of learning based projects. One of the groups I worked with studied water pollution so they could create their own PSAs to promote awareness. I went on a hunt for activities to help them learn more about water pollution, and I found a wonderful activity from the Australian Government’s Marine/Maritime website. I have since seen it on a few other websites, but this link has the directions I followed.

The directions are very detailed, but basically you put water and food coloring in a clear dish. Then, you make “crude oil” using cocoa powder and vegetable oil and add it to the water. (Bonus-this teaches about oil and water, too!) Items such as feathers can be added to the polluted water to show students what it is like for birds in the water. Then, you experiment with different sorbents and methods of cleaning up oil spills. It was a wonderful way to show students the effects of an oil spill and the difficulty involved in cleaning up a massive oil spill.

Oil on top of the water…

Testing sorbents…

After the dish soap has been added…


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