Lake Peigneur – The Lake that Sucked up Everything! – A Mini Research Project

My kLake-Peigneur-MiniResearchProj_Cover_ClassroomInspirationsids have absolutely loved writing about the ‘biggest oops’ ever! Some kids liked to call the accident the ‘vortex of doom.’ They have been so excited to learn about Lake Peigneur and have enjoyed writing about it. What? You have not heard about one of the greatest manmade disasters in history? Well, Lake Peigneur is located in Louisiana near the Gulf of Mexico. Before 1980, it was an approximately 10-foot deep fresh water lake with an island in the middle. Diamond Crystal Salt Company mined for salt under the lake and Texaco was doing some drilling in the lake. On November 20, 1980, crews on the oil rig in the lake ran into a problem. At just over 1,200 feet, their drill seized up. Not a major problem normally, they worked to get it loose. In the process, they heard several loud pops then the oil rig tilted like it was going to collapse. The men got off the rig and to shore as quickly as possible. Not a moment too soon. Just 19 minutes after their drill had seized up, they watched from the shore as the huge platform (150 feet tall) overturned and sunk into the 10-foot deep lake. Next, the astounded drillers watched as a whirlpool slowly formed, soon reaching a quarter mile wide and centered over the site of the oil drilling. Whoopsadoodle!

Kids love this mini-research lesson about a lake that sucked up docks, drilling platforms, a 70-acre island in the middle of the lake, eleven barges, vehicles, trees and a parking lot near the lake. The pull of the whirlpool was so strong that it even reversed the flow of the 12-mile-long Delcambre Canal that drained the lake into the Gulf of Mexico! The lake not only grew in size, it changed from fresh water to salt water!

I have included everything you need in this ready to go lesson. Research cards, resources and stationary for publishing are included. I use this lesson to model how to conduct research and write about it. It would also work great to have students that are familiar with the process complete the assignment independently. Students will gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories. This step-by-step lesson will help students to produce a strong writing piece and they will have fun exploring this engaging topic!

This lesson also meets Common Core Standards!

I am so happy with their final writing pieces and their work looks so cute in the hallway.


Items included in Lake Peigneur – The Lake that Sucked Up Everything!
Mini – Research project:

• Lesson Plan
• Research questions on note cards
• Decorated stationery
• Lake and salt mine pictures to color and add to stationery
• Rubric
• Multiple resources cited for research