Math/Science Activities

ACTIVITY #1

Students will create an oil-spill simulation, and observe the characteristics and effects of an oil spill. Observations will be recorded by keeping track of how the oil spill changes in size and appearance.

• Pour water into a large shallow pan so that it is 2/3 filled. Gently pour a small amount of cooking oil into the pan.
• Loop string around the oil spill.
• Mark the length of the string, measure it, and record the length on a data table.
• Wait five minutes, repeat the string measurements, and make any observations.
• Repeat steps 2 through 4 for a total of six readings.
• Using a straw, lightly blow on the spill to spread it out; record observations and repeat
every five minutes. If the spill covers the entire pan, start over.  (An electric fan may also be used for this step, but caution must be exercised.)
• Shake or vibrate the pan to create light wave action; record observations.
• Discuss the following questions: 1) Left alone, did the oil spread out in an organized way? How did the oil spread? 2) How did you promote the spread of the oil? What kinds of conditions were you simulating? 3) What effect did the wave action have on the spill?
• Additional observations could be made by making a "shoreline" of sand and rocks. Note the effects of oil on these materials.

ACTIVITY #2

Students will investigate how temperature differences in the ocean can cause currents. Students will participate in an experiment that will help them to visualize what happens when water with different temperatures interact. A demonstration of the way in which salt water sinks will be performed as part of a discussion of currents. The experiment and demonstration may touch on density, evaporation, water cycle, tides, gravity, the moon, and the sun.

ACTIVITY #1

Students will use tide charts as a tool for decision making. Decision about when a large tanker can enter or leave a harbor will depend on many factors including the depth of the channel, the draft of the tanker, and the height of the tide. Utilizing tide chart information, students will determine when the tanker will be able to safely leave. They will also record high and low tides on a grid. Each high tide will be connected to the next low tide and, from there, to the next low tide, and so on. The beginning and end of a safe period of time in which the tanker can set sail will be marked.

ACTIVITY #2

This activity will focus on density as students investigate the relationship between a ship's capacity and the type of cargo being transported. Exploration of the carrying capacity of ships for different materials will be investigated. Data on the mass and volume of the oil, sand, and water will be collected. Information will be plotted. By examining the slope of the line, students will demonstrate the characteristic of each material. The steeper the slope, the denser the material.

Internet Activity-Density Lab

REFERENCES

• Wright, Russell G. Oil Spill! Menlo Park, Calif., Addison-Wesley, 1995.