Alaska Oil Spill Curriculum

This Alaska Oil Spill Education spiral curriculum includes two tracks: “Ecosystems & Oil Pollution” and “Oil Resources & Energy Cycles.” As a spiral curriculum, lessons within each track build upon previous learning and prepare students for future lessons. The information is reinforced and solidified each time the student revisits the subject matter. The spiral curriculum also allows a logical progression from simplistic ideas to complicated ideas. The two tracks may be approached separately, or combined into a larger curriculum on “Ecosystems, Energy, and Oil.”

Whittier students participate in a lesson from the 2014 oil spill curriculum.
Environmental educator and Homer resident Katie Gavenus (left, green hat) revised the curriculum for the council in 2014. Here, she teaches Whittier students a lesson from the curriculum.

In its spiral form, a teaching team within schools or informal educators at learning centers can implement the curriculum year by year, building upon previous years’ lessons. On the other hand, most activities were designed with a broad audience age-range in mind. All lessons have the target age-range listed, and many include suggestions for adjusting the lesson for older or younger students. This allows educators to link 5-10 lessons together to create a cohesive unit plan for use during a single school year or quarter. The “Ecosystems and Oil Pollution” track is particularly easy to split into an elementary unit on ecosystems and a middle/high school unit on the effects of oil pollution on ecosystems.

Young children and oil spill education

Please bear in mind when choosing lessons for your students: this curriculum was created specifically for students that have no firsthand experience with oil spills. For this reason, great care was taken to ensure the activities were age-appropriate and would not induce undue fear in students. The lessons for younger ages begin with simple understanding and appreciation of ecosystems and energy. The potentially frightening topics related to oil spills should not be introduced until students are a bit older. However, in an unfortunate situation where students are directly affected by an oil spill, some of the activities designed for older students may be appropriate to help younger students process and understand what is unfolding around them.

Download lessons

Links lead to each age group’s lessons.

Grades K-2

Grades 3-4

Grades 5-6

Grades 7-8

Grades 9-10

Grades 11-12

More information:

If you have questions about this curriculum, or if you would like a copy of any of these lessons in Word Document format please contact Betsi Oliver, outreach coordinator for the council.

Science of Oil Spills – Curriculum

We also have a second curriculum available on this website: The Science of Oil Spills  was created by Alice Dou-Wang of the Prince William Sound Science Center in 2010.

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