Earth Genius Lesson Plans

One Cool Earth, in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program and Bay Watershed Education and Training program, created a series of standards-aligned lesson plans exploring issues related to marine debris and environmental stewardship. Each of these lessons focus on experiential, project-based learning to support student engagement and action. 

Pollution Solutions

In this lesson students pose questions about the nature of the litter found around their school, make predictions, do a campus cleanup to cultivate environmental stewardship, and then brainstorm solutions to prevent litter.
DownloadK-2nd (docx) | 3rd-6th (docx)


In this lesson students will learn about which types of matter can decompose by conducting a simple experiment. Students will observe changes over time due to decomposition, notice patterns and classify materials based on their ability to decompose, and explain how matter changes through decomposition.
Download: K-2nd (docx) | 3rd-6th (docx)

Waste Audit

In this lesson, students will learn about the impact of school waste on the environment. They will use math to measure some/all of the waste produced in one day on campus, and brainstorm ways to reduce that waste. Additionally, teachers can expand on this lesson by encouraging students to take on leadership roles to organize a campus-wide waste audit to collect more data, and design and implement solutions for reducing waste on campus. Download: 3rd-6th (docx)

The full collection includes 24 lesson plans focused on Next Generation Science Standards, all of which are available on the One Cool Earth website. The lessons are grouped in “Phenomenal Series” to link related lessons. Lessons can be taught stand-alone, but may have more significance if taught in the suggested order, within a given phenomenal series. Each of these lessons are also available in a virtual format

You can learn more about One Cool Earth at their website. Additionally, explore their previously funded work with the NOAA Marine Debris Program: