*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.
No one can deny the devastating consequences of an oil spill on the local wildlife. Oil affects all levels of the ecosystem, from plants to fish and birds. What happens to water plants if you add motor oil to their pot? What is the effect of motor oil on the health of a goldfish, or water insects? What happens to the barbs of a bird feather if they are dipped in oil? Can you test different types of environmentally-friendly detergents for cleaning the bird feathers? Can you test different methods of containing oil that has been spilled on water? What about oil spilled on land? How does it affect the soil, or plants that grow in the soil? Can you try to treat affected soil with conditioners or detergents to improve the growth of plants after an oil spill? Some detergents contain enzymes to break down oil and grease; research some of these enzymes. What organisms do they come from? How are they made? What type of proteins are they? Can you think of other potential enzymes to use, or a method of delivery to the spill site? (WMC, 2006; EPA, 2006)
The Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.
If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
Have you ever noticed that for people with asthma it can sometimes be especially hard to breathe in the middle of a busy city? One reason for this is the exhaust from vehicles. Cars, buses, and motorcycles add pollution to our air, which affects our health. But can pollution impact more than our health? Cutting down trees, or deforestation, can contribute to erosion, which carries off valuable topsoil. But can erosion alter more than the condition of the soil? How does an oil spill harm fish and aquatic plants? How does a population of animals interact with its environment? These are questions that environmental scientists study and try to find answers to. They conduct research or perform investigations to identify and eliminate the sources of pollution or hazards that damage either the environment or human and animal health. Environmental scientists are the stewards of our environment and are committed to keeping it safe for future generations.
Emergency Management Specialist
There will always be both manmade and natural disasters, like hurricanes, earthquakes, and terroist attacks, that affect public health and safety. Emergency management specialists are the officials that plan for these disasters—imagining and preparing for the worst—and then coordinating the emergency responses. Emergency management specialists work for local, state, and federal governments, as well as for law enforcement, the military and private agencies to ensure that people have the basic necessities, like clean water, food, temporary housing, sanitation, and first aid in a timely manner after a disaster. They also coordinate clean-up efforts. Emergency management specialists prevent or ease the human suffering, as well as the social chaos and instability that commonly follow a disaster.
Zoologist and Wildlife Biologist
Ever wondered what wild animals do all day, where a certain species lives, or how to make sure a species doesn't go extinct? Zoologists and wildlife biologists tackle all these questions. They study the behaviors and habitats of wild animals, while also working to maintain healthy populations, both in the wild and in captivity.
With a growing world population, making sure that there is enough food for everyone is critical. Plant scientists work to ensure that agricultural practices result in an abundance of nutritious food in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.
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