Hands on Experiment – Oil Spill in a Bucket

My Practicum class spent the month of May exploring life on the BC Coast we looked at the plants and animals we could find on our local beaches, we also looked at ways people both help and harm the ocean.  I had originally planned to do a short lesson on oil spills as part of the unit, then there was a bunker fuel spill in English Bay. This spill was all over the news one weekend and on Monday morning, some of my students asked me how the spill affected their sea creature and were very worried about it. I choose to incorporate current events into my unit and changed my unit plan / schedule.  This was one of my most successful lessons in the unit! My students were engaged through the whole lesson and continued to ask questions and discuss it for days afterwards.  They wanted to know what they could do to both prevent a spill and help in case of an emergency. I feel that the discussion and demonstration format worked well for my students because it provided opportunities for many different types of learners to engage in the process. We used technology-based tools such as kid blog and Padlet to enhance our understanding of the topic and allow students to share their thoughts in the moment. During the demonstration I had Padlet projected on the screen and had a few students who were often reluctant to share their thoughts verbally sharing what they were observing using Padlet and engaging in a written manner.

I feel like this is a lesson I would repeat under the right conditions. I built on my student’s interest in the BC Coast and their growing understanding of the topic and chose to represent animals that they were familiar with and liked, I drew on current events to bring the topic to life and was sharing clips of local newscasts and selections from local newspapers. Connecting the lesson to both current and local events made the demonstration more concrete and less of an abstract idea for my students. Most had been to English Bay and could describe the location and related to it. This local connection also supported Place Based learning and helped my students to understand a where they live and how we are connected to it and our waterways.


This is the type of lesson I enjoy teaching, one that gets my students thinking and developing their own understandings. The discussion around the topic was rich and continued beyond the classroom to having parents weigh in on the conversations on Kid Blog. I like seeing when the lesson becomes bigger than what I do in my classroom and it grows to involve members of the community and inform further student learning. My students brought their understandings from this lesson to their animal projects and looked into the effects an oil spill would have on their animal.




Oil Spill in a bucket lab

Oil Spill in a bucket lab


Oil Spill in A Bucket Lesson Plan


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