SAYREVILLE, NJ - “It did not come from Barney the dinosaur” was just one of the many facts about oil that members of Sayreville’s Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 2-1 explained to Elaine Matthew’s South River fifth grade science classes. On October 21st, four Auxiliarsts, in conjunction with the South River Elementary School, made a Water, Oil and Pollution presentation to six of her classes, totaling 200 students. The presentation was part of the US Coast Guard’s Sea Partner’s out reach program and their mission of Marine Environmental Protection.
The children responded enthusiastically to discussions on water, the formation of oil from tiny life forms, uses of oil, oil related problems and dealing with oil pollution. They asked many really good, intelligent questions such as: “How long will it take to clean up the Gulf spill? Why are the ocean’s salty? Why do oil-absorbing materials only absorb oil and not water? And many, many more similar probing questions.
In tribute to the school system, they displayed a good understanding of earth’s history of how oceans and land masses shifted and changed over billions of years.
During the hands on, demonstration phase of the program, the children were fascinated with the concept of the dispersion of floating crude, with the “heavies” dropping to the bottom of the ocean and the resulting turbidity blocking light and destroying small life forms. The students were introduced to the positive and negative uses of detergents, oil booms and absorbent pads. They were shown a real boom and given small strips of absorbent material to actually use in a simulated oil spill. Don’t worry; olive oil was used in the spill, not toxic crude or even motor oil.
Mrs. Matthews instructed the children to think about what they had heard and participated in, and to write down more questions, which she will forward to the Auxiliary for follow up.
The program curriculum for the fifth graders was designed by the Sayreville Flotilla Sea Partners Training Team and previously field-tested at several Marine Safety event booths operated by the Flotilla. Based on initial feed-back, this program will likely be highly recommended for other school districts within the Flotilla’s service area.