Last week we attended the annual local Kenai River Fish Festival. While we were there the Kenai Watershed Forum (I think) had this experiment going on for the kids to try. I thought it was too great a lesson not to share here.
You will need a large bowl full of water (I thought glass worked best for visual purposes)
a piece of yarn or string that will almost circle the bowl
oil for the water
LOTS of cut up paper towels
Although Cali did this last week at the festival I am glad I did it again with her. It brought up a lot more discussion and I enjoyed her problem solving dialogue. It also reinforced why we were cutting up our old towels and t-shirts and mailing them into craft hope. The big picture was clearing up a little more for her and the big girls.
I put the oil in the water before I took her outside. Once outside I explained her mission was to get all of the oil contained in one area and to remove it from the water.
She already knew what to do but as she worked at it we talked about what the oil is doing to the animals in the Gulf. It was very hard for her to contain the oil and she asked for my help. Even when we thought we had the string in a good place, she would begin the oil clean up and the string would shift causing seepage.
We went to Florida last summer and she remembers the ocean and beach there so we talked about how hard it would be to get something to contain huge amounts of oil in the ocean.
It caused her most concern when we finally decided to stop the project and she tried to clean her hands off. they still felt yucky of course and then we talked about the animals would couldn't really scrub themselves with dishrags and had to rely on humans to help them. And even with wiping them off, they would probably still feel yucky like her hands.
Regardless of your opinions on the oil spill and why it happened or who is to blame the one thing we should all be able to agree upon is that it is and will be devastating for a long time to come. It is causing hardship to families, businesses, animals, and the environment. This lesson helps the kids understand the impact of the tragedy on terms they can comprehend.