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Environmental Pollution Science Fair Project

Investigating Oil Spills

Investigating Oil Spills | Science Fair Projects | STEM Projects
Have you ever wondered what happens when oil spills into the ocean? In this project, you'll create your own oil spill and observe how it affects marine life. You'll also test different materials to clean up the spill.


The hypothesis is that oil spills have a negative effect on marine life.

Method & Materials

You will create an oil spill in a bottle, observe how it affects marine life, and test different materials to clean it up.
You will need cooking oil mixed with black tempura paint, one or more glasses or clear plastic pans of water tinted with blue food coloring, sand, gravel, a wide-mouthed glass bottle with cap, water, a cork or toy boat, bird feathers, cotton balls, straw/hay, cut-up panty hose, paper towels, popcorn, sponges, sawdust, sand, bandage pads, rope/string, turkey basters or eye droppers, popsicle sticks, and liquid dishwashing detergent diluted in a spray bottle.


The results of this experiment show that oil spills have a negative effect on marine life. The oil coats the feathers of birds, making them unable to fluff up and float. It also coats the cork, making it sink. Cleaning up the oil spill is difficult, as the oil mixes with the water and some of it sinks to the bottom.

Why do this project?

This science project is interesting and unique because it allows students to create their own oil spill and observe the effects it has on marine life. It also allows them to test different materials to clean up the spill and see which ones are most effective.

Also Consider

Experiment variations to consider include testing different types of oil, testing different materials to clean up the oil spill, and testing different types of marine life to observe the effects of the oil spill.

Full project details

You can find additional information and details for this science fair project here. Have fun exploring!
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