NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

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New Standards-Based Curriculum Available!

We are excited to announce the release of Nature’s Academy’s Standards-Based Curriculum, which was created as part of their Science Literacy Project as part of an effort supported by the NOAA Marine Debris Program.

Students cleaning up marine debris from a shoreline.

Students learn from Nature’s Academy’s curriculum and participate in a hands-on educational program as part of a project supported by the NOAA Marine Debris Program. (Photo Credit: Nature’s Academy)

This curriculum incorporates lessons on marine debris into a broader investigation that helps students make the connection between the various parts of an aquatic ecosystem, as well as understand how people can impact such environments. It is designed to be used by fifth-grade teachers that are participating in the Nature’s Academy hands-on educational program in Florida. It outlines the specific standards that are covered by the included lessons, provides background information meant to best prepare students and teachers for participation in the field trip activities, and includes comprehensive lesson plans that utilize the Nature’s Academy Citizen Science Database.

Although this curriculum is aimed at students and teachers participating in the field trip program, the materials provided may prove to be a useful resource for many educators that are working to prevent marine debris through education and outreach.

Check out the curriculum on the NOAA Marine Debris Program website.

Cover of the new Standards-Based curriculum from Nature’s Academy.

Check out the new Standards-Based curriculum from Nature’s Academy! (Credit: Nature’s Academy)

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New Marine Debris Prevention Curriculum Reaches Over 1,000 Students!

By: Megan Lamson, Guest Blogger and Vice President for the Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund

Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund (HWF) is excited about the release of the new marine debris prevention curriculum designed for elementary school students around Hawaiʻi, created through a project funded by a NOAA Marine Debris Program Prevention through Education and Outreach grant.

Over the past two school years, HWF mentors piloted this curriculum in 20 public schools, working with over 52 teachers and 1,140 students (grades K-5) in schools around Hawaiʻi Island (including schools located in Kona, Kohala, Kaʻū, Hāmākua, Hilo, and Puna). “It was a great pleasure guest teaching in the many different classrooms around the island.  We look forward to deepening our relationships with Hawaiʻi Island students and teachers in the coming years” said HWF mentor and Education Coordinator, Stacey Breining.

The “Marine Debris Keiki Education and Outreach” curriculum teaches children about aquatic life and ecosystems (basic marine biology concepts), marine debris and how land-based litter finds its way into the sea, what a “discard” is and how our daily choices affect the amount of trash we produce, and the vulnerability of island ecosystems and communities and the responsibility (kuleana) that we each have to protect them.

The curriculum was designed as a 3-tiered program that challenges students to put forward innovative solutions to the global marine debris problem. The lessons are aligned with Hawaiʻi’s Common Core and Next Generation Science standards and other benchmarks relevant to the elementary school level.  All of the lessons and activities are available for free download from the HWF website and can also be found on the NOAA Marine Debris Program website.

As an optional follow-up component of this program, nine cleanup events were conducted, during which 286 students participated in removing over 1,500 pounds of marine- and land-based debris items from the local coastline, stream banks, or their campus!

Check out this awesome new curriculum free of charge on the Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund website or on the NOAA Marine Debris Program website.

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Back to School with Marine Debris!

Believe it or not, it’s that time of year again: back to school. That also means that it’s a good time to brush up on your marine debris education!

There are lots of ways to help fight marine debris while heading back to school! Consider green school supplies and make sure that you’re incorporating the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle!) into your everyday routine. You can also work to incorporate marine debris education into your classroom through various activities and lessons.

"ABC: It's easy to stop debris!" infographic.

If you’re looking for some useful marine debris activities and curricula for your class, look no further! The NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) has lots of engaging resources that are free and available to download.

Looking for curricula to incorporate into your lesson plans? You can find useful ideas for lessons and activities relating to marine debris on our website! Check out “An Educator’s Guide to Marine Debris,” a curriculum appropriate for grades K through 12. Or, take a peek at this web-based Marine Debris STEAMSS (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, and Social Studies) curriculum. Created by our partners at Oregon State University and funded by the MDP, it helps to incorporate marine debris lessons for grades 4 through 12 into various disciplines.

Want to talk about marine debris in your classroom but not sure how to begin? Consider showing TRASH TALK in your class! This fifteen-minute video (which can also be broken down into six two-minute videos that go over various aspects of the issue) reviews the basics of marine debris in a fun, interesting way that’s both engaging and easy to understand. In fact, the TRASH TALK Special Feature recently received a Regional Emmy® Award!

Looking for marine debris activities to incorporate into your lessons or to engage your after school group? Check out the TRASH TALK Webinar for Educators. This ten-minute video goes through examples of fun, hands-on activities that bring marine debris issues to life and make them easier to understand. These activities can also serve as a great way to get the conversation going after viewing the TRASH TALK videos.

Prevention is the ultimate solution to marine debris and education is the key. As the school year ramps up, so can our efforts against marine debris!

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Massive Open Online Course on Marine Litter Starts Monday!

It’s here! The first Massive Open Online Course on Marine Litter starts this Monday, October 26th!

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which serves as the secretariat of the Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML), is launching the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on marine litter today, prepared in collaboration with The Open Universiteit in the Netherlands. Nancy Wallace, the Director of the NOAA Marine Debris Program and Chair of UNEP’s GMPL, contributed a lecture to this curriculum.

This course can be accessed for free by people all over the world and provides examples and case studies of marine debris issues that will help to inspire leadership and stimulate creative solutions to the problem. Students can choose to enroll in the “leadership track” for a two-week course and then continue to an eight-week “expert track”, if they wish to learn more.

Click here if you would like to enroll!

UNEP's Massive Open Online Course on Marine Litter starts Monday, October 26th!

UNEP’s Massive Open Online Course on Marine Litter starts Monday, October 26th!

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Education: Marine Debris Resources (Grades: 8-12)

By: Leah Henry

For a flexible, stand-alone guide introducing the topic of marine debris to 8th through 12th graders look no further than Turning the Tide on Trash.

Our interdisciplinary education guide may also be used as a supplement to other subject area lessons. In ‘A Scientific Cleanup‘ we help students understand the effects of natural events and human influences on ecosystems. Students organize and conduct a cleanup of a local beach, lake, or stream and the lesson drives home the watershed connection; empowering students everywhere to investigate local litter solutions (Page 81 of Turning the Tide on Trash).

Additionally, The Educator’s Guide to Marine Debris (with a focus on the Southeast and Gulf of Mexico) used by both formal and informal educators, serves as a regional introduction to litter, abandoned and derelict vessels, and lost commercial and recreational fishing gear. These three marine debris issues are commonplace across many regions and the lessons in this guide may be adapted for a range of ages and locations. You can pair a lesson like ‘Speak Up and State Your Claim‘ (Page 30 of The Educator’s Guide to Marine Debris) with environmental, government, policy, or speech and debate lessons to provide a targeted topic that your students can research and discuss.

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Education: Marine Debris Resources (Grades: K-8)

By: Leah Henry

Keeping in mind that many of the activities and lessons for younger students need to be flexible and adaptable, we have a wide array of resources specific to Kindergarten age through the 8th grade level.

For the younger crowd there are: crafts, word finds & scrambles, a coloring book, and ‘Understanding Marine Debris: Games & Activities for Kids of All Ages.’

For the more advanced students, we have: educator guides, web-based curricula, and topic-based lessons with direct marine debris prevention actions and pledges designed in collaboration with educators, industry, universities, and non-governmental organizations.


NOAA Marine Debris Program Education Materials:

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Back to School: Planning a Marine Debris Lesson with New Curriculum

By: Leah Henry

In need of new curriculum? Check out the web-based Marine Debris STEAMSS* (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, and Social Studies) curriculum developed by Oregon State University and funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program. It provides data to collect and analyze types of debris, addresses marine debris problems through engineering, uses technology and art to explore the problem, and is appropriate for 4th through 12th grade students.

Marine Debris STEAMSS Online Lessons

This free and teacher-tested marine debris education resource meets educational standards and the needs of educators and students.

To begin your marine debris lesson plan start here: OSU STEM Hub

*Please note that the curriculum will continue to be updated overtime.