Basic Middle/High School Curriculum

Children of the Spills Curriculum

Middle and High School Students In Areas Affected By Oil Spills

Program Description: 3-3.5hours (could be split into 2 or 3 sessions)

Theme: Oil spills often have a significant effect on the people living and growing up in the areas around them, but it is possible to heal and move on after an oil spill.


I.               The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill occurred in Alaska in 1989 and had serious effects on the people and place.

II.             The BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and continues to have serious effects on the people and place.

III.           Young people in Alaska had many hopes for healing after the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.

IV.            Young people in Louisiana can help heal themselves, their communities, and the wetlandss

Goal: Students will understand that young people can be affected by oil spills and can play important roles in the learning and healing process that follows an oil spill. 


 I.               All students will know that major oil spills took place in Alaska more than 20 years ago and in the Gulf of Mexico about 2 years ago.

II.             50% of students will speak during short discussion of effects and brainstorm of questions.

III.           80% of students will participate in an interview, either as the person being interviewed, the one asking the questions, the videographer, or the photographer.

Materials needed:

Map that includes Alaska and Gulf of Mexico, interview clips from Alaska, computer/laptop, projector (?), speakers (?), paper, pencils, audio recorder*, microphone*, video recorder*, digital camera* 

* we used a lot of technology in the interviews, but they could also be recorded by hand using paper and pencil

Program Outline

   DAY 1:

 I.               Background (15 minutes)

Have kids brainstorm ways that we use petroleum products, and point out things they are wearing/using that come from oil.  Present the facts of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.  Show where they happened on the map.  

II.             Interviews from Alaska (30 minutes)

Share video, audio, photographs, and quotes from interviews done with Alaskans who grew up with the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. (Available at, or hard copies available upon request)

III.           Discussion (30 minutes)

We will discuss some of the impacts of the BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the area and brainstorm good questions to ask during interviews.

IV.            Technology (15 minutes)

We will go over the effective use of different technology available for the project. Students will also indicate whether their personal preference in terms of being interviewed, asking the interview questions, taking photographs, running the video/audio equipment, or otherwise assisting the interviewer.

   Day 2:

V.              Interview Time (1 hour)

Based on student preference, students will work as interviewers, photographers, videographers. assistants, and/or be interviewed themselves.

VI.            Sharing and wrap-up (30 minutes)

Students will have an opportunity to share what they learned through the interviews.   We will discuss ways that middle and high school students can help with the healing process.  Students will be able to direct how they think the interviews should be used.