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Eleven year old Olivia is a naturalist and ardent birdwatcher who delights in the extraordinary biodiversity surrounding her home along the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, she also experienced the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, one of the most catastrophic environmental disasters in history. The devastation spurred Olivia into action. By combining her love of birds with her artistic talents she created an outpouring of support for the Audubon Society, one of the front line organizations involved in the cleanup. Wise beyond her years, Olivia believes that youth have the power to enact change and she challenges all students to become active participants in environmental conservation.
This video has some associated lesson plans that focus on biodiversity and the resource would make a great introduction to a unit with this theme. The lesson plans could also be used to explore ecosystem concepts.
National Geographic offers an environmentally friendly oil spill experiment that can be used to demonstrate the impact of oil on feathers and the difficulty of clean up. Students could conduct this experiment and report their findings while relating the information to what they saw in the video. A class could also consider the impacts of an oil spill on biodiversity in a freshwater or marine ecosystem in their own region by creating food webs and identifying which species would be harmed by the pollutant.
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