Don't Spill the Oil

Don't Spill the Oil lesson plan

Investigate the impact of oil spills and efforts made to prevent and clean up such environmental accidents.

  • 1.

    Research the pros, cons, efficiencies, and availability of various sources of energy. Consider environmental and economic perspectives. Recognize the dependence of various countries on oil for transportation and manufacturing. Find out how oil is transported.

  • 2.

    Focus on the effects of oil spills on water, coastlines, and plant and animal life in these habitats. Research a specific oil spill to examine the cause, amount of oil spilled, cleanup efforts, and impact on waterways, landforms, plants, animals, people, and economies.

  • 3.

    Create a 3-dimensional relief scene that demonstrates the effect of this oil spill. Use a base of firm cardboard or thin wood. Build up either white or colored Crayola® Model Magic® into landforms such as mountains, glaciers, islands, or tundra as well as the water. Kneading black, blue, and white Model Magic together creates an authentic-looking oil spill effect.

  • 4.

    Depict the source of the spill (such as pipeline rupture, undersea oil well leak, oil tanker collision, loading error from barge) with Model Magic. Create objects found in the water and indicate the extent of the spill. Use pieces of cardboard rolls, twigs, or other craft items, cutting them with Crayola Scissors, as needed.

  • 5.

    Form pieces of Model Magic to demonstrate the effects of the spill on animals such as birds, beaches, and sea life. Create models of cleanup methods used (such as spill skimmers or absorbent pads, chemical sprays from airplanes, hot water washes off coast

  • 6.

    Cover the work area with recycled newspaper. Paint details on dry Model Magic with Crayola Watercolors or Washable Paint and Brushes, or Markers. Paint on a glaze of glue mixed with water to create shiny surfaces.


  • Students research and build detailed 3-dimensional models to demonstrate their understanding of how oil is transported, causes of oil spills, and the environmental and economic consequences of these spills.
  • Students use various techniques to mold, sculpt, and marbleize Model Magic® compound to represent their understanding of the impact of an oil spill.


  • Write journal entries from several perspectives such as those of the tanker captain, oil company executive, local resident, cleanup worker, or animal affected by the spill.
  • Students with motor disabilities might work as partners with others who can help form the Model Magic® as they request.
  • Compile a chart of ways students can save each of the types of energy they listed. Design, write, and conduct a public information campaign with the school or community about ways to conserve natural resources.