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Teachers, Parents, & Kids

Children have questions too. WSRE, PBS on the Gulf Coast, has created a web page of resources to provide parents and teachers with information they can use to help children understand the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Crisis. Visit the Teachers, Parents and Kids Section on wsre.org/OilSpill for special information including terminology that kids are hearing from their parents, teachers, and news sources; and links and information to help kids understand the science and environmental concerns behind an oil spill.

Water with Boom Deployed
Booms deployed to protect wetlands and beach.
NOAA Ocean Service Education
NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Australian Maritime Safety Authority

The Big Oil Spill in the Gulf - Ranger Rick Answers Kids' Questions

ThinkQuest Library "Oil Spills"

For parents & teachers:

Oil Spill & Wetland Activities

How to Talk to Kids about the Oil Spill

Goo-Be-Gone: Cleaning Up Oil Spills

PBS Kids Go! It's My Life Blog - The Gulf Coast Oil Disaster
Please click on Federal, State, and County Resources for additional materials and fact sheets.
Oil Spill Glossary
Here are a few new vocabulary words students may encounter when learning about about oil spills:


In the petroleum industry, a barrel of oil is 42 U.S. gallons. (California Energy Commission)

(Containment Boom)

A floating mechanical structure that extends above and below the water surface, designed to stop or divert the movement of an oil slick (a smooth area on the surface of water caused by the presence of oil). (Hazardous Materials Dictionary)

Bunker fuel oil:

A very heavy substance, left over after other fuels have been distilled from crude oil. It is used in power plants, ships and large heating installation. The oil has a high sulfur content which causes air quality concerns when burned. (California Energy Commission)

Crude oil:

A comparatively volatile liquid bitumen composed principally of hydrocarbon, with traces of sulphur, nitrogen or oxygen compounds; can be removed from the earth in a liquid state. (European Environmental Agency)

Oil spill:

The accidental release of oil, or other petroleum products usually into freshwater or marine ecosystems, and usually in large quantities. It can be controlled by chemical dispersion, combustion, mechanical containment, and absorption. (European Environmental Agency)

Water column:

A hypothetical "cylinder" of water from the surface of a water body to the bottom and within which physical and chemical properties can be measured. (EPA)