90 Minutes  |  1st – 9th Graders

whoThis short, interactive story gives students an up-close and personal idea of the various sources of pollution, and how every person contributes to the contamination.  A discussion on the sources of pollution, water quality issues, uses of the water bodies, and the clean-up processes for different contaminants gives students an introduction to the broad field of environmental engineering and water resources management.  This is an increasingly important and relevant topic in today’s society, as water resources and contamination of water bodies plays a key role in sustaining a healthy community.  By default, this activity is paired with the Oil Spill Cleanup and takes a combined 90 minutes.

oilspillThe Oil Spill activity is a simulation similar to the “Who Polluted the Charles” demo in which small groups of students get an opportunity to examine the effects of an oil spill in a water body.  In a simulated “ocean” (a pan of water), students will drop a small amount of motor oil into the water and see the effects and interaction.  In an introduction to the workshop, students discuss sources of pollution and oil contamination in water bodies – from point sources (tanker spills) and non-point sources (vehicle run-off).  A brief discussion on preventing and cleaning up oil contamination will lead into the activity, in which the students will use a variety of materials to see what method works best for recovering the most oil from the water.  The effects of dispersants are addressed in the form of soap droplets added to the water in the second phase of the activity, allowing students to examine the effects of such chemical dispersant that are commonly used in oil spill recoveries.  By default, this activity is paired with the Who Polluted the Charles activity.

MA Framework Content Standards:
Grades 3-5:  1.1 Materials.  2.4 Biomimicry.
Grades 6-8:  1.1 Materials.  7.2 Bioengineered Products

Lesson Plan:
Lesson Plan – Who Polluted the Charles (*Adapted from Who Polluted the Potomac activity, 2004 Population Connection)
Lesson Plan – Oil Spill Activity


Who Polluted Story
Who Polluted Activity Checklist
Oil Spill Teacher Fact Sheet
Oil Spill Activity Checklist
Oil Spill Activity Handout

Who Polluted the Charles? Prezi
Oil Spill Activity Prezi