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May 01, 2014

Exxon Valdez

Grade Level:




This unit is comprised of many parts highlighting the Exxon Valdez story, including a photograph presentation, maps, personal stories, and Supreme Court documents.  Individual parts may be selected or combined for use in the classroom depending on classroom needs.  The entire unit is designed to teach students about the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and its impact on the environment and larger society.  Students learn that seemingly isolated incidents—in both time and place—affect larger areas for years beyond the event.  The Exxon Valdez disaster affected all of the United States as victims came from every state, and continues to impact America today, as seen in the recent Supreme Court decision.            


Time needed:

20 minutes – 2 hours, depending


Materials required:

Exxon Valdez Lesson Plan

Exxon Valdez PowerPoint Presentation

Optional Materials:

Exxon Valdez distress call audio

Personal stories about the disaster from the Anchorage Daily News, archived on their Hard Aground website

Exxon Shipping v. Baker Supreme Court briefs:

Exxon Shipping brief

Baker brief

Exxon Shipping reply brief

National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies, National Council for the Social Studies:

Theme 2: Time, Continuity, and Change

Theme 3: People, Places, and Environments

Theme 6: Power, Authority, and Governance

Theme 10: Civic Ideals and Practices