Participants in the Great Lakes Marine Debris Collaborative offer links and downloadable educational materials for people of all ages to learn about marine debris. Whether you are a formal educator or just interested in learning more, there are general and region-specific resources available.
Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education has a marine debris lesson geared towards grades 8-12. The three lessons focus on biological impacts, geographical distribution, and plastics and society.
A contest for high school students in Ohio, teams will compete in accordance with the contest rules using the “Communicating for a Clean Future” curriculum. This curriculum has been aligned to meet Next Generation Science Standards and Ohio Revised Science Education Standards. Students will study marine/aquatic debris sources and impacts, and create a unique Public Service Announcement on the subject. Please find the challenge link at:
Winning teams will be recognized at an awards ceremony at Cedar Point Amusement Park during their Physics, Math, and Science Week in May 2019. All students in grades 9-12 from coastal Ohio, enrolled in recognized public, private, and home schools are eligible to participate. We also encourage organizations and clubs that are not affiliated with schools to participate (ex. Scouts, 4-H, etc.).
Recording of the Great Lakes Marine Debris Education webex held on April 3, 2019. Information shared included a marine debris 101 presentation, a microplastics lesson, and resources for educators to use. Note: The WebEx ARF player is required to playback the recording. Download ARF player
In this teacher-facilitated activity, learners will construct the five Great Lakes from string and use wrapped candy or peanuts in shells to investigate the impacts of population centers on Great Lakes fish production and water quality.
This PowerPoint was developed by Ohio Sea Grant and gives a general overview of marine debris in the Great Lakes with a focus on plastics.
The Marine Debris Monitoring Toolkit for Educators was created through a collaboration between the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. This toolkit provides many useful marine debris resources and adapts the MDP's Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project, a robust citizen science monitoring initiative, for classroom use. The Toolkit is designed to assist teachers in educating their students about marine debris and involving them in marine debris research and outreach. Using the Toolkit, students conduct marine debris surveys, which can help to provide valuable information on where, when, and what kind of debris is showing up. Students can enter their data into a national database, analyze monitoring results, and become involved in marine debris stewardship within their communities. You can find the toolkit below, or on the NOAA Marine Debris Program website here.
Many plastic food service ware items originate on college and university campuses—in cafeterias, snack rooms, cafés, and eateries with take-out dining options. This toolkit was piloted at three University of California (UC) campuses—Santa Barbara (UCSB), San Diego (UCSD), and San Francisco (UCSF)— but it was designed to be replicable and easily implemented by other colleges and universities around the country. By following the steps in the toolkit, you can help your college or university reduce plastic waste through source reduction—the process of minimizing the amount of plastic used.
Activites and curricula for all ages and audiences are available at the NOAA Marine Debris Program's website. These resources focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) standards and were developed or funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program. Both formal and informal educational resources are available.
This curriculum guide was created to complement the Great Lakes Plastic Pollution Survey. In July and August of 2012 a team of scientists from the 5 Gyres Institute, assisted by students from the State University of New York, Fredonia (SUNY Fredonia) and with funding from the Burning River Foundation, conducted a three week-long expedition through the Great Lakes to survey and research plastic pollution.
Developed by the Great Lakes Aquarium and other Minnesota partners, this grade 5-12 lesson allows students to conduct experiments to determine the buoyancy of common plastics, and to observe the process of plastic degradation.
Waste in Place is Keep America Beautiful’s educational resource developed for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students and educators that offers hands-on activities related to end littering, improve recycling and beautifying communities. The activities are interdisciplinary and STEM correlated. The materials are used by many educators nationwide to influence positive behavior, to foster social responsibility and respect for the environment, and to enrich their students’ learning experiences.
This activity focuses on cleaning up litter and recycling. Developed by Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, along with other partners.
Through the Earth Day Bag Project lesson, students partner with local grocery stores to raise awareness about the impact of single-use plastics, like plastic grocery bags, on our Great Lakes and ocean. They also learn solutions to the problem like refusing to single use. After watching and discussing short videos to highlight the problem, students decorate paper grocery bags to explain the impact of single-use plastics and encourage conservation. After the bags are decorated, labels are added to the bag to clarify the campaign. Visit http://bit.ly/EDBPsamplelabels to see sample labels from northeast Michigan. Once decorated and labeled, the grocery bags return to the local grocery store to be given out to customers on Earth Day, 4/22.
This lesson is geared for 3rd - 5th graders and is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards in Michigan. You can also adapt this lesson to include middle and high school students by having them lead the discussion in elementary classrooms.
To learn more about this effort in northeast Michigan, visit http://bit.ly/NEMIEDBP.
The Alliance for the Great Lakes has developed Great Lakes in My World, which offers indoor and outdoor activities you can integrate into your curriculum. More information is available here.
This packet of materials has been assembled for middle school teachers to use in their classrooms. The activities will heighten students' awareness of the Great Lakes, particularly Lake Erie, and can act as a springboard for students to become LAKERS (Lake-Aware Kids Engaged in Relevant Science). The activities involve students in group and individual work using a "hands-on" approach to discover ways in which humans use the lakes, benefit from them, and in turn affect the environment in and along Lake Erie. There are several marine debris lessons in the guide.
Tips to share to address marine debris in the Great Lakes. The tip card is also available here.
As a companion to the Marine Debris Toolkit for Educators, this presentation provides an overview and introduction to the marine debris topic and has been modified to include Great Lakes Literacy Principles.
For grades 6-8. What happens when plastics enter the ocean? Students find out by exploring the densities of different plastics. They then investigate feeding strategies and locations (surface, pelagic and benthic) of various ocean animals and predict how plastics will affect marine food webs. The activity ends with students brainstorming actions to reduce the amount of plastics that end up as waste.
Developed by Ocean Wise and partners, the Ocean Plastics Education Kit includes teacher resources, curricula, unit plans, and student workbooks for elementary, middle, or high school students.
As a result of this activity students will be able to describe: 1. the negative effects of plastic solid waste on wildlife; and 2. what each person can do to avoid adding to this problem.
For grades 5-12, this lesson's objective is to investigate, prepare, take action, reflect and demonstrate that local cleanups can have huge positive consequences’.
Lesson for formal or informal educators where learners build an interactive concept map around beach litter causes and effects