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An Educator's Guide to Marine Debris: 9-12

Secondary

Description

An Educator's Guide to Marine Environments is a three lesson guide that helps educates students about the need and strategies for protecting the marine environment. In partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NAMEPA has created An Educator’s Guide to Marine Debris to provide educators with a tool to help students become more informed on marine debris and encourage environmental stewardship.

This activity introduces students to the processes that break marine debris plastic down into small sizes: photodegradation and
mechanical degradation. Students assess where particulates are
suspended in the water column (premade plastic slurry). Next,
the slurry is mixed into a tub of water that is designed to mimic
seawater and students take samples to assess the amount, size,
and type of the particulates. Students relate this activity to what
they might actually find in the ocean. They will assess the difficulties of sampling and the limitations of the activity. Students
are evaluated by their explanations of the abundance of plastic
in the oceans and assessment of potential impact of plastic micro-debris to the health of marine ecosystems.

Lesson 1: This activity introduces students to the processes that break marine debris plastic down into small sizes: photo degradation and mechanical degradation. Students assess where particulates are suspended in the water column (premade plastic slurry). Next,the slurry is mixed into a tub of water that is designed to mimic seawater and students take samples to assess the amount, size,and type of the particulates. Students relate this activity to what they might actually find in the ocean. They will assess the difficulties of sampling and the limitations of the activity. Students are evaluated by their explanations of the abundance of plastic in the oceans and assessment of potential impact of plastic micro-debris to the health of marine ecosystems.

Lesson 2: After listening to a presentation on marine debris and disposable culture, students examine and discuss data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waste Report from 2012. After gaining a better understanding of types and volumes of waste discarded in the U.S. and how much of that is recovered, students get into groups and create a Public Service Announcement (PSA) designed to educate the public about single-use plastics and mitigating marine debris. 

Lesson 3: After a short PowerPoint presentation about disposable culture and marine debris that includes actual products (packaging, water bottles, etc.), students examine their own lives to see what they’re throwing away. Using the NAMEPA Trash Tracker form, students record their waste for two weeks (time may vary). The first week, students record the items they throw away without changing their normal behavior. The second week, students attempt to reduce the waste they throw away and compare their data from each week. This lesson gives students insight into what they are most commonly throwing away and encourages them to reduce their waste.

This easy-to-use guide is designed to provide maximum flexibility for educators in both formal and informal settings. It may be used as a standalone teaching tool, or to supplement lessons in other areas. 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

Students will learn to collect and analyze micro-debris samples, represent data, create a public service announcement, and compare data.

Strengths

  • Each lesson comes with an extensive lesson plan for teachers with easy to follow steps
  • Lessons are equipped with background information and vocabulary lists
  • STEM applications and objectives of each lessons are clearly stated
  • The clear difference in the type of activities meets the needs of students with different learning styles
  • All documents needed by students and the teacher are provided in this resource
  • Optional extensions are provided in the lessons

Weaknesses

  • The resource uses data from the US, it could be more interesting for students if this data was Canadian. 

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource would be excellent to introduce the idea of the effect of human behaviour on the marine environment and its ecosystem. 

Relevant Curriculum Units

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        • Science 9: The biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere are interconnected, as matter cycles and energy flows through them.
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        • Environmental Science 12: Sustainable land use is essential to meet the needs of a growing population
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        • Specialized Science 12: Biodiversity is dependent on the complex interactions and processes between biotic and abiotic factors

Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • General Guide to Taking Action
  • Ecosystems (3)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Biodiversity
    • Habitat Loss
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Fisheries
  • Waste Management (2)

    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    • Source Reduction
  • Water (2)

    • Marine Environments
    • Water Quality

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

Through presentations and discoveries, students discover the problem of plastic in the oceans. They form their own opinions and take an informed position on the topic. 

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good

Throughout these 3 lessons, students clearly discover how the three dimensions are connected in the problem of plastic in the oceans. 

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Very Good
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Good

While producing a Public Service Announcement, students take ownership in producing change. 

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Very Good

All lessons provide students with the ability to discuss their opinions, beliefs and values around the issue. 

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

Not considered in this resource.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

This resource concentrates on the plastic in the oceans. Students will foster an appreciation for the natural world, however all learning happens inside the classroom. 

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Satisfactory

This resource mostly uses data from the US. Students do get to do an inventory of their own plastic consumption with will be relevant to them. 

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good
Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

All three of the activities provided in this resource allow for students to explore the issue and develop their understanding of marine debris.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good

If is clear that some Science outcomes, in terms of ecology,  and some Math outcomes, with some data collection and analysis, are covered in this resource. 

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Good

The variety of the three lessons will address the needs of visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners. However, there are no strategies for learners with difficulties included in this resource. 

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory

Students take part in a simulation of what plastics look like in the ocean. 

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

Students will need to work in groups for most of the lessons.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Good

Some evaluation ideas are provided within the resource.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Very Good

Students will provide a public service announcement to educate on how we can reduce the impact of single use plastics.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Very Good

When producing the public service announcement, students have full control of the content they want to include and what medium they want to use. 

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.