Don't Cry Over Spilled Oil
1st – 3rd grades
Difficulty of Project
Less than $10.00
The black tempera paint is available at craft and toy stores. The remainder of the materials is readily available or easily purchased at the grocery store
Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project
One hour to complete the investigation and record observations; one day to prepare science fair display
To explore what happens to the ocean and ocean life in an oil spill
Materials and Equipment
- Clear glass jar
- Blue food coloring
- Clear plastic cup
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon black tempera paint
- Small plastic toy
Large tankers transport oil across our oceans. When safety precautions are ignored, oil spills happen. Also oil spills can occur from offshore drilling and underwater pipe lines. Oil spills damage our oceans and the plants and animals that live in the oceans and along the shores.
In this investigation, an oil spill is simulated in a jar to observe the damage that oil spills have on the ocean and ocean life.
Terms, Concepts, and Questions to Start Background Research
oil spill: an accidental release of oil into the ocean causing harm to the ocean and ocean life
Oil spills can cause damage to our oceans and ocean life.
- How do oil spills cause damage to our oceans?
- What causes oil spills?
- Gather the necessary materials.
- To make a model of an ocean, fill the jar half full with water. Add a few drops of blue food coloring.
- To make a model of an oil spill, pour one cup of vegetable oil into the plastic cup. Add a tablespoon of black tempera paint and stir.
- Pour the oil mixture into the jar of water. Observe and record what happens.
- Gently shake the jar. Observe and record.
- Gently blow on the water in the jar. Observe and record.
- Place the small plastic toy in the water and oil mixture. Observe and record. Remove the toy. Observe and record what the toy looks like.
- Place the feather in the water and oil mixture. Observe and record. Remove and record what the feather looks like.
“Oils Spills” at Thinkquest.com
“Oil Spills” at www.epa.gov/oilspill
“Oil Spill”at www.eoearth.org/article/oil_spill
“How Do You Clean Up an Oil Spill? by Josh Clark at http://science.howstuffworks.com/cleaning-oil-spill.htm
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.