Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Unit 1 of

There is a great deal of information and misinformation about how much marine debris exists in the open ocean and how it is distributed. We often hear that “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of Texas”, but what exactly does that mean? Students will read and discuss the article “Pacific Ocean 'garbage patch' exaggerated, new analysis asserts”. What are some of the exaggerated claims that are identified by researchers in this article? How could the way marine debris is sometimes described lead to misconceptions? How can we convey the magnitude of the problem accurately? This activity is available for Grades 6-8 and 9-12, within the "Composition and Abundance" unit. 

Oregon Sea Grant at Oregon State University created a comprehensive, web-based, Marine Debris Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, and Social Studies (STEAMSS) Curriculum with support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program. Marine Debris is a complex, real-world problem which can be addressed through the lenses of several different academic subjects. This curriculum integrates the subject areas of STEAMSS, focusing on experiential hands-on activities for students. The collected teacher-tested resources enable educators to create in-depth, project based learning (PBL) units, work with teaching partners across disciplines, and find classroom and field experiences that will help students explore the issue and impacts of marine debris and engage in stewardship actions. With this curriculum students collect and analyze data, address problems through engineering design, use technology and art to effectively convey stewardship messages, contribute to clean up efforts, and work with community partners. Access the teacher-tested, effective Marine Debris STEAMSS Curriculum here:

Marine Debris Topics:  
• Types and Sources  
• Garbage Patches  
• Grade 6-8  
• Grade 9-12  
• Language Arts  
• Earth Science  
Special Categories:  
• Research  
• Class Discussion  
• Multimedia  
NOAA Regions:   • Pacific Northwest
Last updated Thu, 05/16/2024 - 12:25 pm EDT