Year 10 Tarawera High School

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Block 2 Thursday 30th April: Science - The MV Rena Disaster

Case study - The MV Rena disaster. How chemistry was part of the clean up.


This is the first science lesson this term with a chemistry theme and a real life context we can relate to. Chemistry is an amazing science that deals with building blocks of life. It is a subject that relates to the entire universe, but is so small you can not see it with the naked eye. We hope you enjoy this opportunity to open your mind.

Learning Objectives:


You will
  • Gain an understanding of chemistry, atoms, molecules
  • Identify how the chemical make up of oil, water and detergent is effective in saving wildlife 
  • How oil spills at sea can become environmental disasters on land
  • How oil harms wildlife - Particularly the feathers of birds
    Whole class activities -
    Set up a document to work on today. You can complete your work in your notes book, on a google doc, or in a new post on your blog. Set up the following title for the lesson and the date.
    You are to read through the blog, read the info, watch the clips and look at the presentations. There are questions to answer along the way. The questions are in blue.

    Try to write the question into the answer. For example,’The 3 different ways chemistry is used in our lives are...’

    Task 1)
    Click on the padlet link, write on the wall and write your answer to this - What is chemistry?
    Task 2)
    Quick definitions: What are the definitions to the following words - add them to your document - Chemistry, Atom, Element & Compound.
    Task 3)

    Watch the following clips
    If you are working on a Google doc or on your blog tweet out the link to your work.


    Half class/Split class work

    Case study - The MV Rena disaster. How chemistry was part of the clean up?


    Read through the information below, watch the clips and presentations as you go. Along the way there will be questions you are to answer.

    We are kaitiaki of our environment.
    How can chemistry help us?

    A massive environmental disaster that required chemistry to help in the clean up and recovery of wildlife was the grounding of the boat the MV Rena.

    Task 4)

    Take a look close up at the disaster. Watch the following clips and look at the pictures





    Talk to the people next to you. Together make a list to answer the following question -

    What different types of damage and or harm the oil spill caused?
    For example think of the different wildlife, people, property, cost etc.

    Task 5)

    How Does Oil Endanger Birds?


    Oil spills are extremely difficult to clean! If we don't respond quickly enough, they can destroy coastal wildlife habitats, and endanger animals' lives.

    As you saw in the photos above, oil can greatly endanger a bird's chances of survival.
    Talk to the people next you and together write a short answer the these two questions
    Why is it so difficult to clean oil from birds?
    How would you clean oil from birds?
    Think about when your hands get greasy. Is it enough to just use water to clean up? Why not?
    Task 6)
    The BP Oil spill

    The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred to as the BP oil spill, the BP oil disaster, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the Macondo blowout) began on 20 April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico on the BP-owned Transocean-operated Macondo Prospect.
    In the BP Oil Spill, more than 200 million gallons of crude oil was pumped into the Gulf of Mexico for a total of 87 days, making it the biggest oil spill in U.S. history.

    One of the many birds in killed in this disaster was the Pelican. Click on this Google slides presentation and look at how Pelicans were cleaned after the spill.

    A close look at why oil is so dangerous to birds

    Task 7)

    Watch this clip and answer the question below - How to clean a pelican

    Common household dish detergents helped remove the oil, and saved thousands of birds affected by the spill.
    Detergents act as dispersants, which means they're also useful for cleaning up the oil slick that collects on the water's surface. See how chemical dispersants were pumped into an aircraft, and released over the spilled oil from the BP explosion.
    Oil spill dispersal. Oil dispersant being pumped into a Basler BT-67 fixed wing aircraft. The dispersant will be released over the oil spill caused by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico 20th April 2010. Over five thousand barrels of oil a day leaked into the Gulf of Mexico, 80 kilometres from the coast of Louisiana, USA, harming local wildlife and fishing industries. Photographed in Houma, Louisiana, on 5th May, 2010.

    What substance did the volunteers use to ultimately remove the oil from the birds?


    Why do you think it works?

    Task 8)

    What Happens When Water & Oil Mix?

    You've probably mixed lemon juice into water. The juice disperses in the water and you get lemonade, right?
    But what happens when you pour oil into water? Does the oil disperse in water, or does it separate from water? What if you were to shake the mixture?
    How does oil behave when it's added to water? Describe in detail what you observed from the demonstration and/or the video.
    Why do you think oil and water eventually separate instead of mix together?

    To truly understand why oil and water do not mix, we need to understand a bit of chemistry.
    Task 9)

    Chemistry is apart of everything. It can be used for a number of different reasons.

    Question: Name 3 different ways we use chemistry in our lives?


    Now lets get more specific on how the actual chemistry works. Atoms, elements and compounds what are they exactly? Watch this clip and find out.


    Answer the following questions (remember, write the question in with the answer).

    • What is created when two elements combine?
    • Name the two atoms that combine to create water.
    • How many parts of each atom are there in H2O/water?


    Task 10)

    Why is Oil so Difficult to Clean?

    Oil fails to dissolve because the strong attractions between water molecules keep those water molecules from combining with oil molecules.




    As a result, oil forms a slick on the water's surface that is difficult to remove.

    Do you see why using water alone is not enough to clean oil-drenched birds? That water will just just slide off their oiled feathers instead of taking the oil with it!

    This is where detergents can help.

    Detergent molecules need to break up the oil and disperse it in water.

    In other words, detergent molecules help water molecules combine with oil molecules.That way, the oil can be easily washed away.

    Watch - Oil and water


    Write an answer to the following question Why is Oil so Difficult to Clean?

    Your answer must include the following words:

    • attraction
    • molecules
    • detergent
    • strong
    • weak
    • dissolve

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