Coastwatch Classroom is a new educational resource for teachers and students in grades 6 to 12 that expands on select articles from Coastwatch magazine. We’ll continue to add new Coastwatch Classroom content here, along with links to the Coastwatch material it accompanies.

For more free resources for teachers and students in North Carolina, you can also visit Coastwatch Education.

Blood Draw at the Horseshoe Corral (Autumn 2020)

Read the article online and/or access the article’s PDF.

North Carolina Standard Course of Study

8th grade science:

8.L.1.1 Summarize the basic characteristics of viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites relating to the spread, treatment and prevention of disease.

8.L.2.1 Summarize aspects of biotechnology, including:

Specific genetic information available

Careers

Economic benefits to North Carolina

Ethical issues

Implications for agriculture

Ocean Literacy Standards

1 The Earth has one big ocean with many features.

1.h Although the ocean is large, it is finite and resources are limited.

5 The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.

6 The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.

6.b The ocean provides food, medicine, and mineral and energy resources. It supports jobs and national economies, serves as a highway for transportation of goods and people, and plays a role in national security.

Guiding Questions

Use the article, as well as the resources below, to respond to the following focus questions.

  1. What other organisms are closely related to horseshoe crabs?
  2. What ecological niche does the horseshoe crab fill?
  3. Describe the relationship between horseshoe crabs and red knots.
  4. Compare and contrast indoor and outdoor aquaculture of horseshoe crabs. Why did the researchers experiment with both systems?
  5. Why do you think that horseshoe crabs have evolved to lay thousands of eggs during a spawning session?
  6. Describe an adaptation that horseshoe crabs have that helps them survive in their environment.
  7. Discuss the pros and cons of biotechnology in today’s medical research.

Lesson Links and Resources

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission – The mission of the ASMFC is to promote the better use of fisheries along the Atlantic seaboard. This federal agency manages over 25 commercially important species, including coastal sharks, fishes, and a few arthropods. The horseshoe crab is one of the agency’s managed species. At this website, discover life history information, stock status, and management plans, as well as landing data for both biomedical and bait use.

Ecological Research & Development Group – Learn more about the conservation issues surrounding the horseshoe crab from ERDG, a nonprofit wildlife conservation organization with the primary focus to conserve the world’s four horseshoe crab species. Take a deep dive into their natural history, evolution, and value to biomedical research. The “Teacher Toolbox” tab includes hands-on activities for students.

Kepley Biosystems Inc. – Learn more about the horseshoe crab aquaculture research being conducted by Kepley Biosystems. This page delves deeper into the biomedical use of Limulus amoebocyte lysate (LAL), a valuable substance derived from the blue blood of the horseshoe crab.

Harbor Branch Marine Biomedical & Biotechnology Research – The marine lab for Florida Atlantic University includes a world-renowned marine biomedical research group that focuses on marine pharmacology. Learn more about their work here.

Facts About Horseshoe Crabs – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers this link for learning more about horseshoe crabs and their importance in the ecosystem.

Horseshoe Crab Educational Materials (all available from Delaware Sea Grant)

TED Ed Talk – This YouTube video explains more about why horseshoe crab blood is harvested.

The Ocean Today from NOAA – a series of educational videos featuring horseshoe crab research and medicines from the sea.

Project Limulus Tagging Project – a long-term research project conducted by Sacred Heart University studying the life history of the horseshoe crabs in Long Island Sound. Website includes links to lesson plans.

Additional Reading

Committee on the Ocean’s Role in Human Health. 1999. From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean’s Role in Human Health. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Dellinger, Anthony. 2018. “Blue Bloods Spawn New Research Partnership.” Coastwatch Currents, 8/19/2018.

Katona, Steve. 2015. “Marine Animals in Human Health: Will a Sponge Save Your Life?Ocean Health Index, 1/22/2015.

Krisfalusi-Gannon, J et al. 2018. The Role of Horseshoe Crabs in the Biomedical Industry and Recent Trends Impacting Species Sustainability. Front. Mar. Sci. 5 June 2018.

Sargent, William. 1987. The Year of the Crab: Marine Animals in Modern Medicine. New York: WW Norton & Company.

Sargent, William. 2002. Crab Wars: A Tale of Horseshoe Crabs, Bioterrorism, and Human Health. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England.

Smith, David, et al. 2017. “Conservation Status of the American Horseshoe Crab, (Limulus polyphemus): a regional assessment.” Rev Fish Biol & Fisheries (27) 135-175.

Zhang, Sarah. 2018. “The Last Days of the Blue-Blood Harvest.” The Atlantic, 5/9/2018.

Field Trip Opportunities

The North Carolina Aquariums have horseshoe crabs on display. The three aquariums reopened to the public on Sept. 14 with online-only tickets sales for specific times of entry. Contact each aquarium directly to inquire about current group admission policy.

 

Science Needs You: Monitoring and Assessing Water Quality Across the Neuse River Estuary-Pamlico Sound Continuum (Autumn 2020)


Read the article online and/or access the article’s PDF.

North Carolina Standard Course of Study

8th grade science:

8.E.1 Understand the hydrosphere and the impact of humans on local systems and the effects of the hydrosphere on humans.

8.E.1.3 Predict the safety and potability of water supplies in North Carolina based on physical and biological factors, including:

Temperature

Dissolved oxygen

pH

Nitrates and phosphates

Turbidity

Bio-indicators

8.E.1.4 Conclude that the good health of humans requires:

Monitoring of the hydrosphere

Water quality standards

Methods of water treatment

Maintaining safe water quality

Stewardship

8.L.3 Understand how organisms interact with and respond to the biotic and abiotic components or their environment.

HS Biology: 

Bio.2.2 Understand the impact of human activities on the environment.

Bio.2.2.1 Infer how human activities (including population growth, pollution, global warming, burning of fossil fuels, habitat destruction and introduction of nonnative species) may impact the environment.

HS Earth/Environmental Science:

EEn.2.4 Evaluate how humans use water.

EEn.2.4.2 Evaluate human influences on water quality in North Carolina’s river basins, wetlands, and tidal environments.

Ocean Literacy Standards

1 The Earth has one big ocean with many features.

1.e Most of Earth’s water (97%) is in the ocean. Seawater has unique properties. It is salty, its freezing point is slightly lower than freshwater, its density is higher, its electrical conductivity is much higher, and it is slightly basic. Balance of pH is vital for the health of marine ecosystems, and important in controlling the rate at which the ocean will absorb and buffer changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide.

1.g The ocean is connected to major lakes, watersheds, and waterways because all major watersheds on Earth drain to the ocean. Rivers and streams transport nutrients, salts, sediments, and pollutants from watersheds to coastal estuaries and to the ocean.

5 The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.

5.i Estuaries provide important and productive nursery areas for many marine and aquatic species.

6 The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.

6.d Humans affect the ocean in a variety of ways. Laws, regulations, and resource management affect what is taken out and put into the ocean. Human development and activity lead to pollution (point source, non-point source, and noise pollution), changes to ocean chemistry (ocean acidification), and physical modifications (changes to beaches, shores, and rivers). In addition, humans have removed most of the large vertebrates from the ocean.

6.e Changes in ocean temperature and pH due to human activities can affect the survival of some organisms and impact biological diversity (coral bleaching due to increased temperature and inhibition of shell formation due to ocean acidification).

6.g Everyone is responsible for caring for the ocean. The ocean sustains life on Earth and humans must live in ways that sustain the ocean. Individual and collective actions are needed to effectively manage ocean resources for all.

Guiding Questions

Use the article, as well as the resources below, to respond to the following focus questions.

  1. What is a citizen scientist?
  2. Why are contributions from citizen scientists useful?
  3. Describe the ecological functions of an estuary.
  4. Why are estuaries so valuable to commercial fisheries in North Carolina?
  5. Why is monitoring water quality in the Neuse River estuary important?
  6. Define the acronyms for AVPs, ModMon and FerryMon.
  7. Compare and contrast water-monitoring methods (frequency of sampling, parameters measured, collection sites, etc.) for the three projects.
  8. Explain the value of historical water quality data.

Lesson Links and Resources

iFlood Phone App for Outer Banks Area OnlyiFlood is a citizen science app that is a partnership between researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the towns of Nags Head and Duck, funded by the U.S. Coastal Research Program. iFlood submissions assist researchers in developing models for episodic flooding due to ocean storms and rainfall.

CoastSnap Beach Monitoring – Help researchers monitor beach response to changing weather and wave conditions, as well as extreme storms. This citizen science project began in Australia; its only U.S. location to participate is at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head.

North Carolina Observations in iNaturalist – Our state has its own observation section in iNaturalist, an extremely popular nature app for identifying plants and animals. By entering observations into iNaturalist, people help researchers add to their baseline knowledge about our natural world.

North Carolina King Tides Project – Citizen scientists are documenting extreme high tides or king tides with photographs. Join in the experience.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences – The museum conducts various citizen science projects onsite or remotely. Check out the opportunities at this website.

Assist with the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) – The Ocean Conservancy has coordinated the ICC since 1986, collecting over 337 million pounds of trash since its inception. Volunteer groups and individuals collect trash and data to reach the goal of trash-free seas. Check out the CleanSwell app from the Ocean Conservancy, which allows individuals who pick up ocean trash along any beach to record that trash and share information with family and friends.

Marine Debris Phone App for Collecting Data from Trash – This mobile app for tracking litter is a partnership between NOAA’s Marine Debris Program and the Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative at the University of Georgia. Not just for coasts, the app also allows users to enter debris collected from any waterway or coastline. Available for both iPhone and Android.

Find a Citizen Science Project that Interests You – SciStarter offers information on over 3,000 citizen science projects with a searchable database to filter by location, topic, age level, etc.

Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) – A nonprofit community-based group of volunteers working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, snow, and hail).

Citizen Science Projects for Birders – Holbrook Travel has put together a list of five projects that birders may enjoy. From watching birds at your own feeders to assisting with banding hummingbirds, there should be something for all levels of citizen scientists.

Estuary Education Resources from NERRS – Broad collection of educational materials from the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS).

Eyes on the Bay Lesson Plans – Use Chesapeake Bay remote sensing data to gather information and interpret those data that focus on salinity, dissolved oxygen, and harmful algal blooms. These activities are aligned with Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum standards for grades 6-8 and 9-12.

Bridge Ocean Science Education Data Archive – A collection of activities developed by marine education specialists with Virginia Sea Grant based on research data. The data activities below correlate with this Coastwatch article and are appropriate for grades 9-12.

 

Inside the Greenhouse: North Carolina’s Hottest Year on Record (Summer 2020)

Opening spread of the Coastwatch article "Into the Greenhouse"
Read the article online and/or access the article’s PDF.

North Carolina Standard Course of Study

6th grade science:

6.E.1 Understand the earth/moon/sun system, and the properties, structures, and predictable motions of celestial bodies in the universe.

6.E.1.1 Explain how the relative motion and relative position of the sun, Earth, and moon affect the seasons, tides, phases of the moon, and eclipses.

6.L.2 Understand the flow of energy through ecosystems and the responses of populations to the biotic and abiotic factors in their environment.

6.L.2.3 Summarize how the abiotic factors (such as temperature, water, sunlight, and soil quality) of biomes (freshwater, marine, forest, grasslands, desert, tundra) affect the ability of organisms to grow, survive, and/or create their own food through photosynthesis.

7th grade science:

7.E.1 Understand how the cycling of matter (water and gases) in and out of the atmosphere relates to Earth’s atmosphere, weather, and climate and the effects of the atmosphere on humans.

7.E.1.2 Explain how the cycling of water in and out of the atmosphere and atmospheric conditions relate to the weather patterns on Earth.

7.E.1.3 Explain the relationship between the movement of air masses, high and low pressure systems, and frontal boundaries to storms (including thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes) and other weather conditions that may result.

7.E.1.4 Predict weather conditions and patterns based on information obtained from:

7.E.1.6 Conclude that the good health of humans requires: monitoring the atmosphere, maintaining air quality, and stewardship.

HS Biology:

Bio.2.2 Understand the impact of human activities on the environment.

Bio.2.2.1 Infer how human activities (including population growth, pollution, global warming, burning of fossil fuels, habitat destruction, and introduction of nonnative species) may impact the environment.

HS Earth/Environmental Science:

EEn.2.6 Analyze patterns of global climate change over time.

EEn.2.6.3 Analyze the impacts that human activities have on global climate change (such as burning hydrocarbons, greenhouse effect, and deforestation).

EEn.2.6.4 Attribute changes in Earth systems to global climate change (temperature change, changes in pH of ocean, sea level changes, etc.).

Ocean Literacy Standards

3. The ocean is a major influence on weather and climate.

3.b. The ocean moderates global weather and climate by absorbing most of the solar radiation reaching Earth. Heat exchange between the ocean and atmosphere drives the water cycle and oceanic and atmospheric circulation.

3.c. Heat exchange between the ocean and atmosphere can result in dramatic global and regional weather phenomena, impacting patterns of rain and drought.

3.f. The ocean has had, and will continue to have, a significant influence on climate change by absorbing, storing, and moving heat, carbon, and water. Changes in the ocean’s circulation have produced large, abrupt changes in climate during the last 50,000 years.

3.g. Changes in the ocean-atmosphere system can result in changes to the climate that, in turn, cause further changes to the ocean and atmosphere. These interactions have dramatic physical, chemical, biological, economic, and social consequences.

4. The ocean made Earth habitable.

4.c. The ocean provided and continues to provide water, oxygen, and nutrients, and moderates the climate needed for life to exist on Earth.

6. The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.

6.e. Changes in ocean temperature and pH due to human activities can affect the survival of some organisms and impact biological diversity (e.g., coral bleaching due to increased temperature and inhibition of shell formation due to ocean acidification).

6.g. Everyone is responsible for caring for the ocean. The ocean sustains life on Earth and humans must live in ways that sustain the ocean. Individual and collective actions are needed to effectively manage ocean resources for all.

Guiding Questions

Use the article, as well as the resources below, to respond to the following focus questions.

  1. When did North Carolina’s long-term weather observations begin, and what technology was used?
  2. Analyze the bottom graph on page 25 (North Carolina Minimum Temperature). In one or two concise sentences, describe what the data show.
  3. Explain this statement: “…North Carolina’s climate isn’t a staircase.” Use specific examples from the article to justify your explanation.
  4. Why are more record-breaking warm years in North Carolina likely in the future?
  5. What is one step you would like to see your community take to offset the effects of climate change?

Lesson Links and Resources

North Carolina Climate Science Report – Released in March 2020, this document from the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies is an independent assessment of our state’s climate, both observed and projected.

Coastwatch Articles on Sea Level Rise and Climate Change – Articles in recent issues of Coastwatch have focused on the intersection of sea level rise and climate change in our coastal region. Discover what the research says about the concerns, the science, and the solutions.

North Carolina Climate Blog – The North Carolina Climate Office offers a climate blog that shares news and stories about our state’s climate and weather. You can sign up for new blog notices on the following website.

North Carolina King Tides Project – Citizen scientists are documenting extreme high tides, or king tides, with photographs. Join in the experience.

Yale Climate Connections – Yale’s School of the Environment offers a variety of print articles and audio programs from around the globe focused on climate. Sign up for their weekly e-newsletter.

Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) – A nonprofit, community-based group of volunteers working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, snow, and hail).

Science Friday – Real Estate Hunting for the Climate Apocalypse is an activity for grades 9-12 in which students explore the potential impacts of climate change on natural resources and on different locations across the country.

Bridge Ocean Science Education Data Archive – A collection of activities developed by marine education specialists with Virginia Sea Grant based on research data. The data activity below correlates with this Coastwatch article and is appropriate for grades 9-12.

Additional Reading

Cherry, Lynne and Gary Braasch. 2008. How We Know What We Know about Our Changing Climate: Scientists and Kids Explore Global Warming. Nevada City, CA: Dawn Publications.

Malnor, Carol L. 2008. A Teacher’s Guide to How We Know What We Know about Our Changing Climate. Nevada City, CA: Dawn Publications.

Pilkey, Orrin H. and Keith C. Pilkey. 2011. Global Climate Change: A Primer. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Plastic, Plastic, Everywhere (Winter 2020)

An image of microplastics in various shapes and sizes
Read the article online and/or access the article’s PDF.

North Carolina Standard Course of Study

6th grade science:

6.L.2 Understand the flow of energy through ecosystems and the responses of populations to the biotic and abiotic factors in their environment.

6.L.2.3 Summarize how the abiotic factors (such as temperature, water, sunlight, and soil quality) of biomes (freshwater, marine, forest, grasslands, desert, tundra) affect the ability of organisms to grow, survive, and/or create their own food through photosynthesis.

8th grade science:

8.E.1 Understand the hydrosphere and the impact of humans on local systems and the effects of the hydrosphere on humans.

8.E.1.4 Conclude that the good health of humans requires: monitoring the hydrosphere, water quality standards, methods of water treatment, maintaining safe water quality, and stewardship.

HS Biology:

Bio.2.2 Understand the impact of human activities on the environment.

Bio.2.2.1 Infer how human activities (including population growth, pollution, global warming, burning of fossil fuels, habitat destruction, and introduction of nonnative species) may impact the environment.

HS Earth/Environmental Science:

EEn.2.4 Evaluate how humans use water.

EEn.2.4.2 Evaluate human influences on water quality in North Carolina’s river basins, wetlands, and tidal environments.

EEn.2.7 Explain how the lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere individually and collectively affect the biosphere.

EEn.2.7.3 Explain how human activities impact the biosphere.

EEn.2.8 Evaluate human behaviors in terms of how likely they are to ensure the ability to live sustainably on Earth.

EEn.2.8.4 Evaluate the concept of “reduce, reuse, recycle” in terms of impact on natural resources.

Ocean Literacy Standards

1. The Earth has one big ocean with many features.

1.c. Throughout the ocean there is one interconnected circulation system powered by wind, tides, the force of Earth’s rotation (Coriolis effect), the sun and water density differences. The shape of ocean basins and adjacent land masses influence the path of circulation. This “global ocean conveyor belt” moves water throughout all of the ocean basins, transporting energy (heat), matter, and organisms around the ocean. Changes in ocean circulation have a large impact on the climate and cause changes in ecosystems.

1.g. The ocean is connected to major lakes, watersheds, and waterways because all major watersheds on Earth drain to the ocean. Rivers and streams transport nutrients, salts, sediments, and pollutants from watersheds to coastal estuaries and to the ocean.

6. The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.

6.d. Humans affect the ocean in a variety of ways. Laws, regulations, and resource management affect what is taken out and put into the ocean. Human development and activity leads to pollution (point source, non-point source, and noise pollution), changes to ocean chemistry (ocean acidification), and physical modifications (changes to beaches, shores, and rivers). In addition, humans have removed most of the large vertebrates from the ocean.

6.g. Everyone is responsible for caring for the ocean. The ocean sustains life on Earth and humans must live in ways that sustain the ocean. Individual and collective actions are needed to effectively manage ocean resources for all.

Guiding Questions

Use the article, as well as the resources below, to respond to the following guiding questions.

  1. Draw or describe three different pathways that plastic might travel from land to ocean.
  2. What are two ways that microplastics are formed?
  3. Why are scientists and others concerned about microplastics in the environment?
  4. Why is it important to document the amount of macro- and microplastics entering the Neuse River?
  5. Design a system to do one of the following tasks. Things to consider: power source, water depth, specific targets, disposal of plastics, etc.
    a) Stop plastics from entering rivers and streams; b) stop plastics from entering the ocean directly; c) collect plastics from the ocean’s surface and water column.
  6. Explain the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Then, add at least two more “r” solutions to the list, describing each addition.
  7. Why are oysters among the wildlife most susceptible to microplastic ingestion?
  8. Imagine that you are writing a marine debris action plan. Describe three approaches to preventing and/or removing marine debris that you would include in your plan.

Lesson Links and Resources

North Carolina Marine Debris Action Plan – Released in January 2020, this document represents a collaboration of many agencies and organizations and provides a framework for the prevention and removal of marine debris along the North Carolina coast.

NOAA’s Marine Debris Program – The Marine Debris Program was created in 2006 by the signing of the Marine Debris Act. This federal government office is the go-to group when it comes to any type of marine debris data and information. Discover details about all forms of marine pollution, learn about resources for educators, locate scientific papers about marine debris research, and subscribe to their blog.

My NASA Data – Ocean Circulation Patterns: Garbage Patches Story Map – Using various visualizations (e.g., images, charts, and graphs) and NASA data, students can explore the connection between ocean circulation patterns and ocean garbage patches. Students will also analyze regional plastic production and waste management data to describe how humans have contributed to ocean plastic pollution.

How Natural Disasters Contribute to Marine Debris – Explore the role that natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods, play in the marine debris problem around the world.

The Plastic Ocean Project – a nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate through field research, implement outreach initiatives, and incubate solutions to address the global program of plastic pollution. Learn about their “Ocean Friendly Establishment” designation and their traveling art exhibition created from plastic trash collected from local beaches.

Common Seas – Learn about this London-based organization that brings together researchers, policy experts, and behavior-change professionals to reduce the production of plastic waste and to keep that waste out of the ocean. The group coordinates four projects: Ocean Plastics Academy for educators (see below); Plastic Drawdown for governments; Clean Blue Alliance for plastic waste-free islands; and Healthy Me, Healthy Sea, about plastic and human health.

Debris Tracker Phone App – This community science app (for both iPhone and Android platforms) allows anyone to participate in a wide-ranging research project by taking and uploading photos of plastic debris found on beaches around the world. The app can be downloaded from the App Store or from Google Play.

Duke University Marine Laboratory Community Science Initiative – This DUML group connects 4th and 5th graders with marine debris research and local researchers by using community science and environmental literacy. The interdisciplinary activities fit into existing classroom studies.

5 Gyres Institute – Since 2009, this nonprofit organization has called attention to plastic trash in the ocean and in lakes and rivers around the world. Conducting research in all five ocean gyres, this group includes corporate executives, celebrities, and community scientists in their expeditions.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Trash Free Waters – Most of the trash found in our waters was mismanaged on land. EPA’s Trash Free Waters program focuses on reducing packaging and single-use plastics and preventing plastic trash from entering our waterways.

NOAA’s Resource Collection on Ocean Pollution – NOAA offers background information, as well as lessons and activities, focusing on marine debris and other aquatic pollutants.

Mitigating Microplastics: Teacher Lesson Plans – Oregon Sea Grant offers three lessons aimed at grades 6 to 8. Students will analyze both problems and solutions focusing on microplastics in the ocean. Although this series was designed as a one-week unit, the topic can be extended by adding a student project at the end of the lessons.

Marine Debris STEAMSS – This curriculum for grades 4-12 features more than STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). The addition of art and social studies makes these activities more versatile. The teacher-created and pilot-tested lessons feature project-based learning (PBL) units and both classroom and field experiences.

Microplastics Awareness Project – Florida Sea Grant runs a citizen-science project with volunteers collecting coastal water samples, filtering them, and looking for microplastics — tiny bits of plastic that never biodegrade and are accidentally consumed by marine life, threatening their health, and possibly ours. The website contains a visual representation of the data collected through this project, as well as educational resources and a fact sheet about microplastics.

Plastic Free Milwaukee – This nonprofit organization based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is working to eliminate single-use plastics and keep the Great Lakes clean. Their compilation of original and borrowed activities and lessons targets all ages and grades.

Ocean Plastics Academy – an educational project of Common Seas, the Ocean Plastics Academy offers teaching guides, photo galleries, and infographics for educators, as well as home learning STEAM activities for ages 5-16. Their educational components are correlated with behavioral, cognitive, and socio-emotional learning objectives.

Science Friday: Engineering a Fix for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — an activity for grades 6-8 in which students use the engineering design process to design a device that will capture suspended marine plastics in the marine environment while using natural forces to move through the water.

Turning the Tide on Trash – Originally produced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and updated by NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, this interdisciplinary guide can be used with grades K-12. Individual lessons can supplement learning in other subjects.

Educators Guide to Marine Debris: Southeast and Gulf of Mexico – The teacher’s guide introduces the three main categories of marine debris — litter, lost fishing gear (commercial and recreational), and abandoned boats — and includes activities on stewardship and responsibility. This collection of lessons works well with grades 5-8.

Bridge Ocean Science Education Data Archive – a collection of activities developed by marine education specialists with Virginia Sea Grant based on research data. The data activities below correlate with this Coastwatch article and are appropriate for grades 8-12.

Print Resources

Abbing, Michiel Roscam. 2019. Plastic Soup: An Atlas of Ocean Pollution. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Burns, Loree Griffin. 2007. Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Ebbesmeyer, Curtis and Eric Scigliano. 2009. Flotsametrics and the Floating World: How One Man’s Obsession with Runaway Sneakers and Rubber Ducks Revolutionized Ocean Science. New York: HarperCollinsPublishers.

Freinkel, Susan. 2011. Plastic: A Toxic Love Story. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Hohn, Donovan. 2011. Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them. New York: Viking Penguin.

Moore, Charles and Cassandra Phillips. 2011. Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans. New York: Avery.

Siegle, Lucy. 2018. Turning the Tide on Plastic: How Humanity (and You) Can Make Our Globe Clean Again. London: Trapeze.

lead photo courtesy of VisitNC.com