BP Oil Spill Lesson Plan

July 13, 2010
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Theodore Roosevelt BP Oil spill Lesson PlanIn light of the horrific environmental damage that will surely impact the Gulf Coast due to the BP oil spill, I thought I would share some thoughts on using this disaster in the classroom.  Unfortunately I think we will still be hashing out the impact of BP’s spill during August and beyond.

The opportunity that teachers have in  this disaster is to provide a background and some understanding of humans’ impact on the environment in which we live.  This would fall right in line with the aptitude of Meaning that Dan Pink discusses in A Whole New Mind.

To start with, I would address a bit if history.  We could begin with Teddy Roosevelt’s preservation efforts during the Progressive Era of U.S. history.  President Roosevelt was a vivid outdoorsman, and he had a personal passion for preserving our nation’s natural resources for future generations.  The Theodore Roosevelt Association has an excellent lesson plan on their site that provides a background into Roosevelt’s legacy of conservation.

You could start this lesson by having students locate the Breton National Wildlife Refuge on a map.  Be sure to mention that this preserve is over 100 years old.  It was the second nature preserve created by Roosevelt and was the only reserve personally visited by the president.  Then you could dive into the Theodore Roosevelt Association’s in-depth lesson plan to provide students with a more detailed understanding of Roosevelt’s overall conservation efforts.

Once your students have a good background on Roosevelt’s conservation movement, you can pull out NOAA’s interactive map that outlines the current environmental damage and areas of concern due to the BP oil spill.  Mr. Roosevelt’s second nature preserve is clearly within harm’s way.  Students could then discuss or write journal entries about President Roosevelt’s dream of preserving our nation’s natural resources for future generations.  Did he succeed?  What have we lost due to the spill?  Are we doing our part to preserve our nation’s national resources for future generations?

This is only one angle, and I know that there are many others.  I would like to share more ideas with you in the coming weeks, and I would like to ask you to do the same.  Do you plan on addressing the BP oil spill in your classroom?  How do you plan on doing it?  Please leave your thoughts and comments.  We’re all in this together!

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3 Responses to BP Oil Spill Lesson Plan

  1. Greg
    August 9, 2010 at 11:59 am

    How about comparing this spill to the Exxon Valdez? Questions to ask, “How much oil made land in this spill vs that of single tanker?” “How many birds/slash wildlife have been found oiled vs the Valdez? “Why did President Obama refuse to life the Jones Act when the world was willing to send in ships to help with the clean up?” “Do we shutdown the highways or airports when there is a single crash?” “Aftering being rejected twice by federal courts, should President Obama have continued with his executive order to shutdown all drilling?” “What is the economical impact of oil companies leaving the gulf? “Which portion of the constitution did President Obama use to extract a 20 billion slush fund from BP?”

    Yes, I’d say there is plenty that could be learned from this spill.

    • August 9, 2010 at 1:15 pm

      These are great ideas. There are any number of lessons that the BP oil spill can teach us, but I especially like your comments about the role of executive power in times of crisis. Every president seeks to expand the role of the presidency, even when there is no immediate crisis at hand. (Teddy Roosevelt’s Bird Preserve is an example of a president extending executive powers outside of an immediate crisis.)
      I like this suggestion. This would be an excellent topic to explore with any presidency that your class will study. And you could always tie in the Exxon Valdez, BP’s oil spill, and Hurricane Katrina as modern examples.
      Thank you for commenting!

  2. July 14, 2010 at 4:40 am

    #BP #oilspill Teacher Lesson Plan for BP Oil Spill http://bit.ly/bNodB1 via @AddToAny

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