As a class, brainstorm ideas and create a concept map on the board for effects of an oil spill. Discuss the relationships or connections between the items listed in the concept map (examples may include loss of jobs, dead animals, increase in oil prices, water pollution, loss of food supply). All of these things are the effects of an oil spill. Lead a discussion about the cost of clean-up and how many volunteer hours it takes to clean up an oil spill.
Show students the picture of the oil slick water from Google images and explain that students will create a watercolor painting to communicate through art their feelings about oil spills.
Briefly explain to students that watercolor painting is the process of painting with pigments mixed with water. In this activity, students will also mix a drop of oil with paint to observe what happens when oil mixes with water simulating a real oil spill in their paintings.
Distribute materials to students. Each student will need one sheet of watercolor paper. Mix each watercolor and water in individual paint containers; these may be shared by several students. Pour cooking oil into one separate container which can also be shared by several students. Students should put their watercolor paper on a tray and use an eyedropper to drop watercolors on their paper. Tell students to be sure to use a different eyedropper for each watercolor and for the oil. Be sure to emphasize that students should choose colors that depict their feelings and have personal imagery to them about oil spills. When the student is finished, place another sheet of watercolor paper over the painting to remove excess paint and create the "marbling" effect. Hang students' artwork up to dry and let dry for several hours or overnight.
After their artwork completely dries, students should be able to see swirls of empty space in their artwork representing the separation of the oil and watercolor paints.
Lead a discussion that oil is less dense than water which means the molecules that make-up water are packed more tightly than those in the same amount of oil, so water will always sink below the oil. Oil floats on water because it is less dense, which allows cleanup crews to contain a spill with booms and collect it from the water surface using skimmer equipment. Detergents like both water and oil, which is why they are so great at cleaning. When there are oil spills in the ocean, detergents are used to wash the oil from seabirds caught in the oil spill, saving their lives.
Students will complete the reflection about their watercolor painting in their science journals.