Earth Science Weekly

Mrs. Wilkinson

Week of May 9-15

Monday: Renewable Energy Resources
Tuesday: Renewable Energy Resources/Solar Oven Design

Wednesday: Solar Oven Construction*/Guest Speaker

Thursday: Structure and Composition of the Earth/Earth's Crust

Friday: Conduction, Convection & Radiation/Movement of Earth's Plates

*The solar oven construction may spill into additional days.

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Cleaning Up an Oil Spill [On-Level]

As our discussions in class have revolved around the consumption of natural resources, we have also looked at what happens when things go wrong, specifically at the ecological impact of an oil spill. We have focused mainly on the Exxon Valdez disaster and the BP Deepwater Horizons explosion. (If I could add another 2 weeks to the school year, I would love to also look at the nuclear power accidents at TMI, Chernobyl and Fukushima!)

In the on-level classes, students were given instructions for how to clean-up an oil spill, but were given a very strict budget for obtaining clean-up materials. They were forced to decide whether they had the money to clean up all of the oil using the best tools or to instead clean up the "animals" (a feather for a pelican and a fuzzy piece of material representing a seal) at a higher expense. All groups found themselves in debt and unable to completely clean up the oil in their water and shore line or their animals!

*I apologize for the lack of pictures! I found myself cutting out a lot of little "seals" and did not having the time to take any pictures!

Oil Spill Lab

Cleaning Up an Oil Spill [Honors]

For the honors classes, I decided to make their oil spill clean up a bit more of a challenge. We spent a number of days watching quick video clips of the mistakes made by the oil companies and the damage done to wildlife as a result of both the BP and Exxon disasters. Instead of giving the honors class a lab procedure, I asked them to design a lab. They had to create some type of simulation that would model the spill and clean-up.

At first, most groups were confident in their ability to completely rid their "ocean" of oil, but after about 10 minutes of frustrating and messy removal, many groups realized that the task of removing every drop of oil from either the water or wildlife is virtually impossible. Even after 10 washings with Dawn, a little "seal" still had a greasy residue in its fur.

To introduce the students to writing lab reports, I then asked them to create a group summary of their project. As expected, the first drafts were a bit rough. Most students "failed" the assignment, but were sent home on Friday with the corrections that needed to be made and the opportunity to make those changes. The only grade that will appear in Sapphire will be the revised version of their report.

How Much Do You Consume?

We began looking at the need for alternative energy sources to replace the fossil fuel supply that we currently have. Students took an energy inventory in class to see how many "energy bucks" they are spending per day.

If you go HERE, you can calculate your family's ecological footprint. You may be surprised at the results!

Top 10 Energy Sources of the Future

And because our unit would not be complete without a song.....

Renewed Energy Song