Developing Marine Debris Curriculum in Oregon
Two teachers sort through a bin of marine debris in a lab.
Participants sort through debris at a teacher workshop.
NOAA and Oregon State University are engaging students on marine debris using an integrated curriculum.

What is the project?

The Oregon State University and partners paired with the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) to create a comprehensive marine debris curriculum that immerses 4th-12th grade students in project-based learning and citizen science activities. Local Oregon teachers are engaged in the project and will pilot the curriculum, which incorporates 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 will provide a variety of hands-on activities that increase students' awareness on marine debris and allow them to become involved in a meaningful way. Armed with lesson plans and activities, the teachers will motivate and challenge 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 will also work with volunteers and partners in the field to collect, analyze, and report marine debris data.

What is something unique about the project?

When projects are complete, the students will display or present them to their local communities and make their observations available online. All outreach will be student-led.

Who is involved?

This hands-on curriculum development is 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.