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Grade Level: Grade 9, Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 12

Time Requirements:
One week.

The scenario in the student section provides context, background and an image to engage the students.

This lesson could easily be turned into a multi-disciplinary unit. There are various outcomes for classes:

  • Social Studies or Geography:
    • Ethical lessons of a drive for profit versus safety and social responsibility.
    • Preparation for future responders.
  • Science:
    • Effects of oil from a biological perspective.
    • Impact of oil commercially.

Some experience in self-directed learning and working with a team or group would be of great value. This is a student-centered lesson.

Students will need to have access to the Internet.

  • Elementary Standards
    • K-PS2 Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
    • K-PS3 Energy
    • K-LS1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
    • K-ESS2 Earth's Systems
    • K-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity

Divide the class into heterogeneous groups of 3-5 students each. Problem-based learning lessons start with a scenario to set the context. Have students follow the PBL model provided. After reading the scenario students will a hypothesis or ideas about the outcome. Next they will list questions needed to address the problematic situation depicted in the scenario. Have them refine the questions if needed, and then check in on the group as it proceeds to answer the questions. If students are new to PBL, have them submit status reports and/or what they have produced during various stages of the problem-solving lesson. This precludes students waiting until the last moment to complete their work.

The PBL model is included in the student section. Although this model is not meant to be sequential, students should address all of the steps beginning at the top and proceeding through each. Some steps may have to be revisited. As students uncover information, they will also identify new questions. The implementation will also proceed differently in each teacher's classroom as classes will vary depending on the age and experience students have with student directed learning. The intent here is that students assume ownership of the learning situation by identifying their own learning needs based on the problem or project they have been tasked with. Therefore, some students will need more scaffolding than others. Suggest putting the students in heterogeneous groups of 3-5 students each.

Alternative assessment comes into play with problem-based learning. Examples include: presentations, class discussions, papers, and presentations. Teachers might consider splitting the class and having one side support the idea that deforestation is not a problem; the other half supports the opposite idea. A PBL rubric is attached for your use. Click here to download the Problem-based Learning rubric.

Graphing Changes in Marine Environments (Cycle C)
"...study of the marine life occupying a section, or quadrat, of Mearns Rock (a boulder in Prince William Sound, Alaska, that was oiled in 1989 by the Exxon Valdez oil spill).

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