Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pollution Experiment: Black Banana Week 2 and Oil Spill Experiment

Check out week 2’s picture of our decomposing banana. 

The kiddos made a list of factors that occur outside that are affecting the decomposition rate.  Topping the list:  rain, ants and temperature. 

I haven’t generated a conversation about how or why these things could affect decomposition yet.  Instead, we began tracking a rotting banana that we are keeping inside to compare to the one outside.  They liked to poke their fingers in it during the first week, but now that it’s oozing rotten juice, they steer clear!

I can’t wait to have them compare these two bananas in a couple more weeks.  I plan to post specific vocabulary (decompose, rot, and compost) beside the bananas so they can remember to use the words when they are describing what they see.  I’m a HUGE believer in posting word walls so those visual kids can see and hear the words!

For those I Hate Science Teachers—if you can’t stand the idea of having a rotting banana in the back of your class, show the kiddos these pictures and have them compare and draw conclusions.  Better than nothing!


I googled oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and showed the class a few pictures of oil slathered pelicans, fish, crabs, etc.  The room was silenced by the graphic pictures of animals in distress.  We discussed how the quality of life had changed, food web destroyed, habitats damaged, etc.  I like for my kids to verbalize that pollution doesn’t just kill; it also diminishes the livelihood of animals. 
$1.88- buy some brightly colored feathers at Walmart
Kitchen cabinet- cooking oil
Closet- old tshirts

Super easy experiment- 
After realizing the damage that oil has on animals and their habitats, pass a feather to each student and drizzle oil on one of their hands.  Have them cover the feather with the oil.  I challenge mine to try to remove the oil.  Of course they can’t.  Have them try to not use their thumbs, because, of course, birds don’t have thumbs.  When they give up, pass out the soap.  Old tshirts?  Save the environment one paper towel at a time!  Use an old tshirt as a hand towel!  My kids think I’m crazy for it, but I bet they’ll remember it for a long time!
Begin a discussion on how these animals in the Gulf of Mexico had no possibility of cleaning themselves from a disastrous mistake make by humans.  They enjoyed the experiment and really get the concept of how humans are affecting ocean ecosystems. 
Thoughts for next time:  put food coloring in the oil so it’s easier to see, put the oil and feather in a bowl of water and have them try to also remove the oil from the water.  This wouldn’t take much more on the setup end, but it would extend the experiment to specifically include effects on the habitat and animal.

Much thanks to my mom, who always thinks out of the box, says no to nothing, and inspired me to be a science teacher,

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