Friday, July 9, 2010

It matters what you call it.

It matters what you call it.
Many of us will be studying the BP Deep Horizon oil well disaster with students when school starts again. As you begin, how will you refer to it? I've been ruminating on this because I think it's important that we frame the study by naming it precisely. I hear "Gulf oil spill" tossed around but that's inert. "Gulf" says where, "oil spill" says what, but how about greater specificity? Who was responsible? What failed? What is the scale of the thing? I propose we call it what it is: the BP Deep Horizon Oil Well Disaster. Do you have a better idea? I'd like to hear it.

It matters how you see it.
How will you help kids visualize the scope of the oil well disaster? Here's a terrific visualization tool by If It Was My Home, a Google Map overlay you can place right over your town to get a sense of the sheer size of the oily mess. Notice that If It Was My Home cares about how we talk about this too - It's not a spill, it's a disaster.

In his blog Teaching Science 2.0, Eric Brunsell, Asst. Professor, University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh presents infographics links and plenty of other resources you'll find useful for studying the BPDHOWD. He starts off with a video and prompt to get viewers thinking (I'd press students' media literacy into service to figure out point of view) and follows with advice on how to center in on a project by "messing about" first.

Meet Camp Sergeant Suzie and the Edutopia Campers
Suzie Boss is heading up Edutopia's PBL Summer Camp where all "campers" will work together to whittle out projects relating to the oil well disaster. A thousand campers signed up in just two and a half days so you can't join, but you can certainly see everything going on, including the discussions and weekly webinars. Learn more here.

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