Middle School Activity

Priorities for Protection Activity

Middle School Age Group (not necessarily affected by an oil spill)

Program Description: 45-60 minute town meeting

Materials: scenario cards (included in this document), large note pad/whiteboard, markers, interview video clips (at http://childrenofthespills.org or hard copies available upon request), DVD player & TV or projector or computer to play videos on

Briefly explain some of the facts of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Ask students, “Could something like this happen here?” And if so and if YOU were in charge, “What places would you want to protect.”  Then tell students that they are going to do a mock City Council meeting to deal with an oil spill. 

At this point, accept a nomination for one student to run the meeting (this will be the Mayor).  Ask for someone else to help (this will be the Clerk).  Get someone with good handwriting to be the secretary and write ideas on the large paper pad.  Everyone else will be council members. 

Have volunteers read scenario cards 1, 2, and 3.

Proceed with a mock council meeting.  The Mayor “calls on” those that wish to speak.  The Secretary writes down ideas.  After 30 minutes, a list of top 3 priority sites should be ready for submission to response team.

At the end, ask if anyone suggested protecting anything that wasn’t a beach, stream, marsh, etc.  What about other things important in the community that could be affected by the spill and clean-up efforts? What about recreation?  What about foods?  What about children?  If time, play video clips that explain some of the less obvious effects.  Ask students if they want to add anything to the list.


An oil spill just occurred in ___________.  The tides, currents, and winds are carrying much of the oil _______________.  It is projected that large amounts of oil will reach your community within the next 24 hours. 


Our hope is to be able to prevent oil from reaching the most important resources and areas.  We have limited materials available, however, so we will need to prioritize which sites are most important.


We are asking you, as the City Council, to create a list of the top THREE local areas that you believe are most important to protect from the oil.  Please consider their importance to people as well as wildlife and the overall environment.  You may list other places of importance, but we need you to prioritize your top THREE sites. You have twenty minutes to create your list.


Your responsibility is to make sure that the meeting proceeds in an orderly manner and that everyone has a chance to share their ideas and opinions.  You “call on” people to speak.  Make sure they explain WHY something is important to protect. You also must decide when it is time to decide the top three priorities.  The Clerk will help you to budget time.


Your responsibility is to make sure that the list is created in the 20 minutes allotted.  Make sure that your Mayor knows when 5, 10, and 15 minutes have passed.


Your responsibility is to record the suggestions so that everyone can see.  You will also write the final list of 3 top priority sites to be submitted to the response team.