social studies, language arts
1. To get a sense of the impact of an oil spill, have a role-playing discussion. Ask students to play the parts of some or all of the fictitious characters listed here. Have each character write some notes that would be taken to a press conference held to find out what happened when a tanker went aground and caused an oil spill along a coastline. Some members of the class can be reporters, directing questions to any of the participants. Other members of the class can record the discussion in writing or videotape it.
Captain Shipley: captain of the tanker that went aground
Ms. Petrol: spokesperson for the Giant Oil Corporation
Mr. Swab: head of cleanup operations
Ms. Cirrus: spokesperson for the U.S. Weather Service
Mr. Marchand: president of the local merchants' association
Ms. Greene: spokesperson for a national conservation group
Mr. Hook: spokesperson for the local fishing community
Ms. Wright: president of the Town Council
Mr. Labb: scientist at Innovate Corp., a bioengineering firm
Ms. Ivory: salesperson for Kleen-Up Supplies, Inc.
Mr. Byrd: conservationist from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office
Ms. Goodley: spokesperson for volunteers
2. The reporters should ask questions about (a) the chain of events that led to the oil spill, (b) how each party helped with the cleanup operation, and (c) how the spill affected their lives. Student responses will vary widely but should be consistent with the attitude and professional knowledge suggested by each fictitious character's name and position. Students should be able to conclude that the responsibilities for cleanup must be shared and that local people are affected by the oil spill long after the cleanup crews have left.
Optional: Have students use their library to access articles about recent oil spills. Encourage students to become aware of local or regional events that are similar, if not as large.
Last Modified April 8, 1998