Developing Marine Debris Curriculum in Oregon

Two teachers sort through a bin of marine debris in a lab.
NOAA and Oregon State University engaged students on marine debris using an integrated curriculum.
Project Dates: August 2013 - July 2015

What is the project?
The Oregon State University and partners paired with the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP)created a comprehensive marine debris curriculum that immersed 4th-12th grade students in project-based learning and citizen science activities. Local Oregon teachers engaged in the project and piloted the curriculum, which incorporated Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, and Social Studies (STEAMSS) principles, Common Core State Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards, in their classrooms. In February 2014, during a day-long teacher workshop at Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon, the teachers received marine debris curriculum and training, heard from local experts about marine debris-related projects, and prepared to bring those lessons back to their eager students.

What does it accomplish?
The curriculum provided a variety of hands-on activities that increase students' awareness on marine debris and allowed them to become involved in a meaningful way. Armed with lesson plans and activities, the teachers motivated and challenged students to find ways to address the marine debris issue, incorporating what they have learned into student-led projects. For example, students may choose to make art mosaics out of debris they found, produce live webcasts on marine debris, focus on engineering solutions, or study marine organisms attached to marine debris - all keeping within the STEAMSS curriculum. Students also worked with volunteers and partners in the field to collect, analyze, and report marine debris data.

What is something unique about the project?
The students displayed or presented the projects to their local communities and made their observations available online. All outreach was be student-led.

Who is involved?
This hands-on curriculum development was led by Oregon Sea Grant with support from the Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Lincoln County School District. The MDP partnered on this project as part of the program's Prevention through Education and Outreach Partnership grants.