Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Oil Changes Everything
Unit of 4 lessons

Unit Overview:

Focus Question: Is it the responsibility of every human being to be an advocate for our natural resources and the habitats of the animals on our planet? 

Unit Purpose:

Explore the effects of oil on the environment, people, and wildlife. Students learn about oceans and the management and impact humans have on ocean environments. 

Unit Objectives:

The learner will:

  • analyze ideas from literature.
  • understand the interdependence of organisms on the Earth.
  • increase their understanding of how humans effect an animal’s ecosystem.
  • brainstorm ways to clean up a polluted ecosystem.
  • understand the interdependence of organisms on the Earth.
  • conduct an experiment to show the problems resulting from an oil spill.
  • understand the effects humans have on the environment.
  • develop possible solutions to the problems that oil spills create for the environment.
  • complete an experiment to show the effects of oil on different animals.
  • understand the problems resulting from spilled oil.
  • increase their understanding of the human effects on the environment.
  • increase their ability to influence others.
  • present their ideas and opinions in a clear and simple way.
  • share their knowledge of how humans can impact the environment.
  • advocate for legislation to protect the environment against human caused disasters.

Service Experience:

Although lessons in this unit contain service project examples, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.

Learners will create advertisements on grocery bags advocating for legislative protection of habitats from human caused disasters like oil spills. Learners will develop a letter writing campaign to members of Congress asking for the creation of legislation that will better protect the oceans against oil spills and holding those responsible for such devastation of wildlife and their habitats.

Unit Assessment:

Learners will write an “Opinion Essay” to send to a local newspaper advocating for legislation to protect environments from human caused disasters like oil spills. They will also reflect on the learning in this unit and what they think they could do to further help protect the environment.

School/Home Connection:

  • “Copy-and-Paste” Class/School Newsletter Information Insert:
    We have been studying in class human caused disasters. Our focus was on oil spills and the impact they have on the local wildlife both in the ocean and on land.  We have been writing letters to our members of congress advocating for better legislation to protect habitats from these types of disasters.  By doing these things, we are giving our time and talents and becoming better stewards of the Earth.  We have been advocating for others to do the same.  Look for our “advocacy” bags in your local (insert name here) grocery store.
  • Interactive Parent / Student Homework:
    Attachment Two, Oil Use in Your Home, Lesson Two: Oil +Water = A Mess


Notes for Teaching:

  • Throughout this unit motor oil is used for the purpose of demonstrations.  Please be sure that the oil is disposed of properly and that students are aware of the proper way to dispose of motor oil.
  • Lesson One:
    Be mindful that feathers are considered sacred by some Native American people. The use of certain kinds of feathers for this purpose might be considered offensive, however for the purpose of this lesson, a feather (goose, duck, or chicken feather) is suggested to demonstrate as closely as possible the affects of oil on birds' feathers.
  • Lesson Three:
    Access the website http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_spill and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/30/louisiana-oil-spill-2010_n_558287.html#s172647&title=Gulf_Oil_Spill to obtain downloadable pictures of different oil spills or locate pictures from another source such as National Geographic Magazine to  share with the students for discussion.
  • Lesson Four:
    Ask a local grocery store manager for donations of  grocery bags that the learners will decorate with information about protecting the environment.

State Curriculum and Philanthropy Theme Frameworks:

See individual lessons for benchmark detail.

Lessons Developed By:

David Walls
Holton Public Schools
Holton Middle School
PO Box 159
Holton, MI 49425

Jessica Wagenmaker
Holton Public Schools
Holton Middle School
PO Box 159
Holton, MI 49425

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