Unit Overview

Students use their understanding of ecosystems to engineer a process for cleaning up an oil spill. Pairs well with Computer Science Essentials: Analyzing Digital Images.

  • Grade 5
  • Setting: In school
  • Science connection: Human impact on the environment, ecosystems
  • 5 lessons (10 class sessions)

Standards alignment

We’ve developed each EiE unit with careful attention to educational standards in both science and technology/engineering. View Standards Alignments.

Unit Map

Students are introduced to the concepts of engineering and technology. (30–40 min.)
The class reads a storybook in which a girl named Tehya, a member of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe in Washington State, explores the field of Environmental Engineering in order to help clean up an oil spill in a local river. (90–120 min., 3 sessions)
Students investigate possible sources of air and soil pollution and use pH level data to draw conclusions. (70–75 min.)
Students examine how an ecosystem might be impacted by an oil spill. They also test material options for containing and removing oil. (110–120 min., 2 sessions)
Students follow the steps of the Engineering Design Process to imagine, plan, create, test, and then improve their own process for cleaning an oil spill in a model river. (160–175 min., 3 sessions)

Sample How-to Video

Sample Classroom Video

What's Included?

  • Teacher Guide (PDF)
  • Illustrated Storybook (PDF)
  • Print Materials (PDF)
  • Additional Resources