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Gulf Oil Spill

FOSS Newsletter Staff
September 20, 2010 | Science News

Top image: This NASA satellite image shows the oil slick in the Gulf. Larger version.

Since the Deepwater Horizon explosion the night of April 20, 2010, we are all exposed to news about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in the newspaper, on TV, and on the radio. It is difficult for young and old alike to comprehend the extent of this disaster, especially when we are miles away from its direct effects. It is a complicated and even scary situation, especially for children.

There are many resources online that you can use with your students to begin talking about the oil spill and to help them understand and cope with this and future environmental problems. Here are just a few sites you might review as you decide how to present the situation to your students, keeping in mind the grade level with which you are working.

  • How to Talk with Kids About the Gulf Oil Spill: A Guide for Parents and Teachers?
    This Ranger Rick website includes a number of great resources for students, teachers and parents. It provides a number of ideas to help adults provide developmentally-appropriate background information for the young people in their lives, including information about the effects on animals and the landscapes in and around the Gulf.
  • Wildlife Impacted by the BP Gulf Oil Disaster - National Wildlife Federation
    This site includes information, multimedia and ideas for getting actively involved in the recovery of the Gulf.
  • Restore the Gulf
    This is the official federal portal for the Deepwater BP oil spill response and recovery. This site provides the public with information on the response, current operations, news and updates, how to file a claim and obtain other assistance, and links to federal, state and local partners.
  • NOAA Office of Response and Restoration
    Current information about the extent of the oil slick is available from the Office of Response and Restoration at the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration. Go to Information for Students and Teachers > Oil Floats and Spreads. Here you will find an experiment, designed for elementary school students, that shows how oil behaves in water and an extension activity that demonstrates the procedure for caring for wildlife affected by the oil.
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service FWS Oil Spill Response
    This site includes information about the impact of the oil slick on wildlife.
Scientist with pelican

Credit: Kim Betton/USFWS