Human Impact on Estuaries: A Terrible Spill in Grand Bay

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In this activity, learners make a model of a pollution spill that occurred at Bangs Lake in Mississippi and measure water quality parameters in their model. Learners then study the actual spill, analyzing various forms of data to determine the date of the spill and identify how the spill changed water quality parameters in the estuary during and after the spill. Learners speculate on how various life forms in the estuary were affected. Finally, learners produce a timeline of the spill event, with recommendations to the state Department of Environmental Quality about how to prevent large-scale pollution spills like this in the future.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Learning Time:
2 to 4 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 14 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Geochemical Cycles
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
      • Biosphere
  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
      • Animals
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Energy Flow and Chemical Cycles
      • Human Impact
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Risks and Benefits
      • Public Policy
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Technology and the Environment

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Model Building
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Includes assesments for student learning:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, NOAA/National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS),