Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Quail Run students get a chance to experience difficulty in cleaning oil from water, animals

Quail Run first-grader Olivia Ryan, center, pulls a soiled paper towel from a mixture of water, vegetable oil and cocoa mix as her classmates Olivia Ferguson, left, and Patricia Thomas watch Thursday in Mary Pendry’s class.

Quail Run first-grader Olivia Ryan, center, pulls a soiled paper towel from a mixture of water, vegetable oil and cocoa mix as her classmates Olivia Ferguson, left, and Patricia Thomas watch Thursday in Mary Pendry’s class.

May 20, 2010


As work continues on cleanup from the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, some Quail Run School first-graders learned just how difficult a task that officials from BP and federal and state governments have in front of them.

“The oil, when it gets to the surface, it gets bigger,” said Tyler Zeller, a student in Mary Pendry’s class.

Pendry showed her class a presentation Thursday morning about what was happening in the gulf. And they got some hands-on experience trying to clean up oil from a bowl of water and off bird feathers.

The oil was cocoa powder mixed with vegetable oil, all donated by parents.

Thursday’s lesson went hand-in-hand with the ocean unit for the class.

Students watched as Rene Morris, a paraeducator, dropped the brown oil into a bowl of water. It collected in beads on the surface, and students tried to soak it out with paper towels.

“It’s kind of oily and watery at the same time, and it’s really hard to get all of the oil cleaned up in there,” Zach Bloch said.

Students also dipped single bird feathers into the oil and worked to clean them with dish soap.

“We talked about trying to clean a whole bird that’s covered in oil, and the bird is fighting you and scared and how challenging that is,” Pendry said.

She got the idea for the activities from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and she taught Centennial School third-graders a similar lesson when she was a student-teacher in 1989, after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

“The accident in the gulf just inspires that we do a little bit more focus on our ocean unit, what the oil is doing and what its impact is,” Pendry said. “I think it’s something the kids are going to be learning about their whole lives.”

Even though Lawrence is not near the gulf or an ocean, class members mentioned trying to take care of rivers and lakes in the area.

“I felt closer to it because we were doing experiments about it,” Katherine Fischer said. “It was more important to me.”


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 11 months ago

This is pure communist indoctrination of these poor kids. They should be taught that environmental disaster is just one small price to pay for the freedom that only unregulated capitalism can provide.

SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years, 11 months ago

Your comment indicates that what is obvious to me is also obvious to you: this school lesson has everything to do with vilifying oil and nothing to do with explaining the challenges of dealing with an accident.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 11 months ago

"$$$" = CHA-CHING!

Groups like the Sierra Club may act offended and indignant about what has happened in the Gulf, but behind 'close doors' they couldn't be happier! What excellent fundraising propaganda this will be! The environmental utopia Al Gore speaks of would actually be a nightmare for the environmental terrorist organizations; why would we need them around?

Don't recycle! == Give the Sierra Club (et al) something to live for, an excuse for their sorry tree-lovin' existence!!

Paul R Getto 7 years, 11 months ago

MRW: My goodness! The situation in the Gulf of Mexico is sad and tragic. It is a not so subtle reminder of the price we pay for our addiction to oil.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 11 months ago

I absolutely agree with you.

BP should be held accountable; for every bit of damage.

I just get very sceptical when it comes to self-righteous environmentalists who love $$$ and dictating how you and I should live our lives.

meanyartcritic 7 years, 11 months ago

That's great! And what about all the air time it gives blowhards like Douglas Brinkley and Al gore? Remember, the Goracle said about 7 years ago that we had only 10 years left to save the world. Gasp! That means we only have about 3 years left! The earth has been here about 6 Billion years, they just found human remains thought to be 60 Million years old. But Al Gore and his ilk are narcissistic enough to think they have the date pin pointed to within 10 freakin years, and it's all due to US.

Try to fathom 6 Billion years, it's mind boggleing to try. With all the huge (much bigger swings in climate) we've had in that time, before the industrial revolution, these people still think what happened in the 20th century is man made - and to argue that it could be a natural process that we know has happened before makes you an unsophisticated, bible thumping, uneducated, clinger.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 11 months ago

Meany: Whoa there. 4.5 billion is a better guess on earth's age. Modern man is, perhaps 100-150,000 years 'old.' I'd like to see the 60 million year old human remains. Keep 'em coming.

meanyartcritic 7 years, 11 months ago

It was just all over the news a few weeks ago.

meanyartcritic 7 years, 11 months ago

It was thought to be the 'link' between man/ape. damn it, you can't just tell yourself I'm a simple minded genesis believer.

George_Braziller 7 years, 11 months ago

This is a really good experince for the kids. I hope that the teachers let them know that chocolate powder mixed with vegetable oil only mimics what crude oil on a body of water really does.

A bucket of water, one tablespoon of cude oil, and a feather would have really driven home how bad an oil spill is.

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