Children get experience in cleaning up oil spill - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Children get experience in cleaning up oil spill

By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

MOBILE, AL (WLOX) – It was a fun, interactive lesson, with a serious message.

"Sometimes accidents happen and we had a pretty big accident," said Melissa Dean, Education Programs Director for the Gulf Coast Exploreum in Mobile, ALA.

More than 30 summer camp children at the science museum, spent Wednesday morning learning why there is so much commotion right now in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Kids are constantly hearing about booms and berms and seeing all these things in the news. But to make sure they really understand what's going on, this allows them to interact and participate and truly have an appreciation of what everyone is doing in the gulf to cleanup this spill," said Exploreum Spokesperson Hela Sheth.

First, they heard how the disaster started.

"The oil rig exploded and went into flames," a boy explained.

Then, they got hands-on experience in cleaning up the toxic mess.

"We're going to use a dispersant right here. Who knows what this is?" Dean asked the group as she held up a bottle of soap.

The children broke up into two teams.

"We got team Clyde.  We got team Collin.  And now we've got to simulate our oil spill," said Dean.

Using pretend booms and skimmers, they raced to see who could soak-up the oily substance first.  While grown-ups have been racing to save the Gulf, the children had their own ideas on how to remove the gooey crude.

"Just use a big bucket and somehow use something to attract all the oil and then you can suck up all the oil with a big vacuum and put it in what you use it for," said five year old Meagan Furman.

When asked what she would do with the oil, Meagan answered "Gas and stuff to cook with."

Nine year old Davis Carroll offered his own solution. 

"Build a filter and put it in the water," he said.

The children now understand why their parents are so worried about the spreading slick.

"It's definitely destroying the environment," said 12 year old Chapin Dinsmore.

"And it's probably hurting the fish and getting them all sick," said Meagan.

And they know why even young people should care about the environment.

"We all work together to do different things to try to make the oil go away," said Davis.

"It could hurt, and make it to where you can never go fishing again," said Meagan.

The Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center is open seven days a week. The museum offers the interactive lessons on the oil spill in the afternoons and on weekends, as well as for big groups.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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