Education:Technology and History: an impact of oil spills



This Civics lesson investigates the effects of oil on society. This lesson presents students with a challenge to address the societal impact of oil spills. This also includes lessons about the importance of natural resources and our responsibility as citizens to become advocates for the betterment of the mankind.


Common Core State Standards:

WHST.9-10.1e Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from or supports the argument presented.

WHST.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes.

WHST.9-10.2b Develop the topic with well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.

WHST.9-10.2c Use varied transitions and sentence structures to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.

WHST.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.

WHST.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

WHST.11-12.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.


  • 6.1.12.B.1.a
  • 6.1.12.C.15.a
  • 6.1.12.B.16.a
  • 6.2.12.C.3.b
  • 6.2.12.B.5.e
  • 6.2.12.A.6.b
  • 6.2.12.B.6.a


Students will:

  • understand the problems resulting from spilled oil.
  • increase their understanding of the human effects on the environment
  • understand the effects humans have on the environment.
  • develop possible solutions to the problems that oil spills create for the environment.


news articles on various oil spill-see below

Anticipatory Set

1. Discuss with students about oil spill and its impact on society

a. Where we use oil

2. Teach students how to outline a research paper


1.Have students read the news articles about the Exxon-Valdez spill and the BP spill



2.Have students fill out a graphic organizer outlining the major points for each article


3.Have students research about each of the oil spills.



4.Students are to use a Venn Diagram to distinguish each oil spill and similarities with both

5.The teacher puts a prompt on the board for discussion:

a.How does each oil spill affect society and impact the natural resources in each area?

b.According to you what was done right by the US Government?

c.What could have been done differently?

d.Why should all American care about oil’s impact on society and the environment?

e.Students then print out their newspapers for a presentation and to display

6.Students will then be put into two groups for each oil spill to make a power point presentation that will provide:

a.History of the oil spill

b.Impact of the oil spill

c.Who was involved

d.What was the catastrophe

e.Who was impacted

f.What was the media’s response

g.What was the public’s response

h.What was the government’s response

i.What are some solutions that you can provide to prevent oil spills and make the country aware of its dangers

7.Students in the audience must take notes

8.At the end of each presentation, each group will create a 10-15 question quiz on their oil spill for the audience

9.For homework, the students will write an essay based on the following prompt: After researching both oil spills and society’s impact, write a 500 word essay that identifies a problem with oil spills and argues for a solution. Support your position with evidence from your research, discussion, and presentations. Be sure to examine society’s response to the crisis. Give examples from past or current events or issues to illustrate and clarify your position.


  • Tap into the students prior knowledge pertaining to oil spills and where oil is located
  • For students who are kinesthetic and visual, show clips on oil spills
  • The teacher can model for the students what a finished product looks like to help clarify concerns or questions.
  • If students are having difficulty with the assignment, students can have extended time


  1. Have students present their essays to the class
  2. Ask students how and where they see oil being used in the future
  3. Ask students if they can imagine a world without oil and to describe that world

Vocabulary List