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Novel Coronavirus — July 23, 2021 Update: Explore Scouts Canada’s actions as we continue to follow the direction of government and health agencies in maintaining public health. View recommendations and stay informed here.

NOTE: All Scouts Canada Staff will be on summer break from Monday, July 26 to Tuesday August 3. All offices are closed.

Oil Spill Experiment

Find out what happens when oil spills, and experience how this affects animals, such as birds, when their bodies are covered in oil.

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  • What materials do you need for this activity?
  • How could you clean up oil from water? What might be the most effective way?
  • What kinds of materials will you want to use to test your cleanup?


  • Oil and water do not get along. Do you know how to clean up an oil spill on water?
  • When these accidents happen, plants and animals are in trouble. It’s very important to be able to clean up oil quickly and effectively.
  • Explore different ways to clean up oil, and figure out the fastest and most effective way to deal with a spill.
  • Discover what this might be like for animals in the water as well, and how we could best help them.


  • What was the easiest way to clean up the oil?
  • What was the best way to safely clean birds and other animals?
  • What did you find out about oil spills?

Keep it Simple

  • In your Lodges, Lairs or Patrols, make an oil-spill-simulation experiment. Simulate a crude oil (canola or vegetable oil and cocoa powder) spill in a large container. From here, try to decide how to clean it up and save the ocean wildlife. Does a spoon work best? Perhaps a sponge works better?

Take it Further

  • What species are endangered due to the poor health of our oceans? Use the Ocearch Tracker to see what wildlife is being tagged around the world and how we can help save them. Share what you find with your friends, family and classmates. Host a Mission Animal Rescue—the first step to helping endangered species is to get people to care!