By: Grace Chon, Pacific Islands Assistant Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program
October always includes various outreach events in Oahu. This past month, the Pacific Islands Regional Coordinator (Mark Manuel) and the Assistant Regional Coordinator (myself) participated in outreach events that reached 3 FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams, 12 city and county planners, 12 Sea Life Park interns, 86 teachers, 88 second graders, and an additional 6,000 students!
The NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) was invited by three schools to talk to students participating in the FLL’s 2015 TRASH TREK Challenge. Every year, the FLL encourages young people (ages 9-14) to explore the world of science and technology. This year, the FLL is having a competition where more than 233,000 children from over 80 countries will explore the world of trash! At each school, we were able to use the NOAA MDP “Trash Talk” videos to address their questions:
- What is marine debris?
- What are the different types of microplastics?
- What is the size that is considered a microplastic?
- What is the impact of plastics in the ocean?
- What are some solutions that NOAA is working on?
- What is the Marine Debris Program?
- What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
We’re excited to see what kinds of solutions the kids will create to invent new ways to clean up our ocean! Some ideas included flying machines and animals that were able to filter microplastics.
In addition to our FLL TRASH TREK Challenge presentations, we spoke to various audiences interested in marine debris— from city and county planners to all second graders at Waialae Elementary School. Our biggest event was partnering with the University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology for their Open House Event, which occurs every two years. This event is widely advertised and NOAA has a strong presence there. During this two-day event, approximately 6,000 visitors (mostly students) flooded the campus and stopped by the marine debris booth to learn about microplastics, marine debris impacts, and what THEY could do to help prevent marine debris.
Take a look at our regional page to see what other projects are happening in the Pacific Islands Region!