We love book inspired activities. Over the years books have inspired the food we eat, the gardens we grow and so many crafts. This week we are taking inspiration from a book to explore the environment and science. After reading the book “Harriet’s Home at the Sea” by Evelyn Wang, we were inspired to create our own oil spill clean up experiment. When Harriet’s ocean community is impacted by an oil spill, how can she possibly help? What could we do to help clean up an oil spill?
Our experiment began with a discussion about the consequences of an oil spill on the environment. We discussed how oil can hurt birds, making it so that they cannot fly or swim. We discussed the negative impact the oil can have on the shoreline habitat of many animals and fish. Birds and animals nest and live in the marshy shoreline and the oil can destroy their homes. If they can’t nest then there won’t be another generation. We thought about the plants in the water and on the shore that the oil can hurt as well. These are a few of the negative impacts of an oil spill on the environment. So, we determined that the most important thing to stop the oil from spreading and reaching the shoreline.
We came up with three possible tools to help clean up an oil spill. We put our ideas to the test.
Oil Spill Clean Up Experiment for Kids
cooking oil (we used olive oil)
First, we created our environment. The girls used the clay to make landmasses in our large container.
Then it was time for the oil spill. We poured oil into the centre of the water and observed the oil for a few minutes. The oil slowly moved in the container. When we placed the animal in the oil, it was immediately covered in oil and the oil started to spread. We pulled the animal out of the oil.
We started our clean up with a piece of cheese cloth. We thought this would absorb the oil. While it did absorb the oil, it also spread the oil around the container. The oil started heading for the shoreline.
Next, we tried to scoop out the oil with a spoon. We thought this would be a good way to remove the oil. It was really hard to scoop the oil, since the oil kept moving whenever the spoon got close to the oil.
Finally, we tried to use dish soap to actually clean the oil. The dish soap did move the oil, but it took a LOT of dish soap to move the oil. We thought that maybe the impact of the soap would be as bad as the oil, if you needed to use so much of it.
In the end, we concluded that the cloth did a good job of absorbing the oil, the spoon was pretty good at removing the oil and the soap wasn’t very helpful. After doing a little online research we learned that absorption and removal are the approaches that are used in actual oil spills. Scientists are working on some very cool inventions for oil spill clean up. For instance, using milkweed to absorb oil and using floating vacuum cleaners to remove the oil.
Today’s post is part of the Storybook Science series being hosted by Inspiration Laboratories. The theme this week is EcoSystems and the Environment. Head over and check out all the amazing books, activities, crafts and experiments being shared.
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