California Teachers Bring Home Lessons on Plastic Marine Debris
Kids are standing and hitting a ball in a crowd.
Students participate in Ocean Plastic Pollution Summit.
Monterey Bay Aquarium and the NOAA Marine Debris Program worked with California teachers to add marine debris lessons and projects to their classrooms.

Project Dates: August 2013 - July 2014

What is the project?
Monterey Bay Aquarium developed a three-part Ocean Plastic Pollution Summit that prepared California’s educators to go in-depth with their students on marine debris issues and solutions. The series included educator training, in-depth background on the science of plastic marine debris, and ideas and guidance on action-based classroom projects. At the final meeting in May 2014, students of teachers who participated presented their marine debris action projects at the aquarium.

Who is involved?
Monterey Bay Aquarium led the effort in partnership with the NOAA Marine Debris Program as part of its Prevention through Education and Outreach funding opportunity. Over 100 educators participated in the first event, held in September 2013, where a series of marine debris experts provided information, set groundwork for the sessions ahead, and encouraged educators to develop student projects in collaboration with organizations in their community.

What does it accomplish?
The Ocean Plastic Pollution Summit increases public awareness of the problem of marine debris and builds local community capacity to take concrete action. Training educators to comfortably discuss marine debris science and impacts in an age-appropriate way with their students will cause a ripple effect in the community and inspire more and more ocean stewards. Through educator education, the project increases their knowledge on the marine debris problem and equips them to deliver those lessons to their students.

What is something unique about the project?
Twenty-nine educator-developed and student-led action projects were borne out of the summit sessions. One such project, run by the Mount Madonna School fifth graders from Watsonville, California, is called “Don't Be A Nurdle, Save The Sea Turtle” and raises awareness about the impact of plastic bags on sea turtles. The students presented their concerns to the Scotts Valley City Council, created a DVD, and held a public presentation.