Grammar School Scientists Clean Up Mock Oil Spills

By Stephanie Avena, Grammar School science teacher

Each year Grammar School scientists are given an engineering design challenge. Through the Engineering Design Process — Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create and Improve — the students work to solve a problem. In third grade, the science curriculum focuses on ecosystems and how humans impact them. Oil spills, which occur every day somewhere in the world, are a perfect example of how ecosystems can be impacted.

The students study the two worst oil spills in U.S. history (the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon oil spills), investigating the devastation of both ecosystems and learning about the techniques used to clean up the spills.

Using the engineering process, students collaborate in teams to create a tool to remove a mock oil spill, assess how their tool performs and try to improve their tool by adding a material or removing one. Sometimes the improvements are successful, and sometimes they are not. Engineers don’t give up!  We couldn’t be more proud of our young engineers.