Sei sulla pagina 1di 4

Try these oil spill projects to demonstrate the effect on wildlife (birds,fish, and

other animals). Plus, discover how difficult it is to remove spilled oil from

What You Need:

 Shallow container, such as a small glass baking dish

 Water
 Blue food coloring (optional)
 Vegetable or olive oil
 Feather
 Dish soap
 Sponge
 Paper towels
 Plastic straw
 Cotton balls
 Syringe, pipet, or turkey baster
 Empty bowl

Part 1: Feathers and Oil

What You Do:

1. Fill the dish halfway with water (add a drop or two of blue food coloring,
if you like).
2. Set the feather in the water and notice what happens; does it float or
sink? Take the feather out and set it on a stack of paper towels.
3. Pour about 2 tablespoons of oil into the water. It should spread out over
the surface (since water and oil don’t mix).
4. Set your feather on top of the oil and holding onto the end, swish the
feather around in the oil so it gets thoroughly coated. Does it float?
Does it feel heavier? Do you notice anything different about the feather

once it’s coated in oil?

5. Remove the feather and set it back on the paper towels. Apply one drop
of dish soap to a wet sponge and begin cleaning the soap off of the
feather. Once you’ve removed as much oil as you can, carefully rinse
the feather off and let it dry. Once it is dry, take a close look at it and
answer these questions: Were you able to remove all the oil? Does the
feather still feel as light as it did before the experiment? How well do

you think the feather would float now?

Part 2: Removing Oil From Water

What You Do:

1. Cut the straw so that it fits across the width of your dish (connect
straws together if you dish is wider than the length of one straw). Place
the straw on the surface of the water and oil at one end of the dish and
carefully move it towards the other end. You should be able to use the
straw to push the oil around, leaving behind water that only has a small

amount of oil left in it!

2. Now try removing some of the small oil spots with cotton balls.
3. If you still have large patches of oil, try sucking them up with a syringe,

pipet, or turkey baster.

4. Were you able to remove most of the oil? Which method worked best?
Which method removed the most water along with the oil? Can you
think of any other ways to remove more oil? Try any method you can

think of!

What Happened:

In the first part of the experiment, you demonstrated what happens during an
oil spill and how it can impact animals with feathers. The feather should have
floated just fine in the water before the oil spill. After it became coated in oil, it
may have still floated, but was quite a bit heavier than before. Imagine if a bird
were to land and dive for fish in the ocean where oil had leaked and then tried
to fly. Do you think the bird’s now heavy, oil-coated feathers would have made
flying difficult? Applying soap and gently washing the feather worked pretty
well to remove most of the oil from the feather. Of course, birds can’t clean
themselves with soap and sponges! Oil spills can harm many animals that live
in, on, and around bodies of water. Think about how oil might harm large
animals with fur, such as seals, or small animals that feed near the surface,
such as fish. Feathers and fur that are coated in oil are not good at insulating
animals to keep them warm, and it can also poison animals who swallow the
oil when they try to clean themselves!

In the second part of the experiment, you tested different methods for
removing oil from water. When a real oil spill happens, clean up crews use
similar methods to either remove oil or contain it in a smaller area. The
methods they use are on a much larger (think ocean-sized rather than dish-
sized!) scale, though. Which method did you find worked the best without
removing much water? Which one was the quickest? After you cleaned up as
much oil from your water as you could, there were probably still puddles of oil
left on the surface and even small droplets that had sunk down into the water.
Keep in mind that the kind of oil that spills from oil tankers and wells into the
ocean is much different from the cooking oil that we used—it is thick, black,
and sticky. In a real oil spill,there is really no way to ever clean it up entirely
and it’s hard, messy work!

For further study: Use an empty egg carton to demonstrate how water
pollution occurs. Then read this Water Pollution Prevention science lesson.