Is Oil Really Like?
- Adapted from 4th R Recycling Curriculum, by San
Francisco Recycling Program, San Francisco, CA
- Back to Trash Goes to School
- GRADE LEVELS: 4-6
- SUBJECT AREAS: science
What are the properties of motor oil and what effect does oil
have on the environment.
To discover the properties in motor oil and see how it reacts
when it is put in contact with other natural resources such as
water, soil, and plants.
* motor oil in 35mm film container (caution: could be harmful
* jars of water
* ceramic bowls with soil in them
* small plants in pot
Millions of gallons of used motor oil are drained from family
cars and disposed of each year. The oil is dumped into storm
drains, on vacant lots, and into trash cans. This is an incredible
waste of a potentially useful resource that is becoming increasingly
scarce and expensive. When improperly disposed, oil can have
negative environmental and health effects.
- Explain that in this lesson we will
discover the properties of oil (what oil is like and what it
does when it is used with other things). We will do three experiments.
We want to observe what oil does when it comes in contact with
water, soil, and plants. Divide the children into small groups.
Each group should record their observations regarding:
- 1. oil with water
2. oil with soil
3. oil with plants
4. oil with animals (bird feathers)
- Have each group choose a secretary
to record the observations. Each group receives a small film
canister with oil, a jar with water, a bowl of soil, and a seedling
- Discuss the findings. Elicit summaries
of the students' observations, and post them on the board. After
a week, the OIL WITH PLANTS experiment will be completed. Add
those findings to the dittoes posted on the board.
- FOLLOW-UP: Discuss
the following questions:
- * How many of you have family cars?
Have you seen people adding oil to their cars at the curbside?
Have you seen empty cans of oil in the gutter?
- * What happens to motor oil when you
pour it on the ground, in the sewer, or in the trash can?
- * How can we solve the used
oil problem? How can we keep used motor oil out of the environment?
- * Will your local gas station or recycling
center accept used oil?
If they don't, why not?
How can you convince them to recycle used motor oil?
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