This learning block represents one week’s work. Aim to watch at least one video and choose at least one activity or project to complete.
There are two videos to choose from about plastics in the ocean. The first one is better for younger kids, the second one will appeal to older kids. Feel free to watch one, or both!
Now choose an Activity
Plastic trash mosaic
Go through some of the garbage in your house and pull out the plastics.
Perhaps this is already sorted in your recycling bin.
Make an outline of a simple fish, or sea turtle, or octopus, or whale, any marine animal you are interested in.
Create a mosaic by gluing the plastic pieces that you found to the shape to fill it in entirely. The picture above is from Make Film Play.
While you’re doing this, talk about the effects that plastics have on the environment and the creatures in it and the very long time that it takes plastics to degrade.
Think about the plastics that you use in your house (or if you’ve stopped using them, this is a great time to remember why and how you made that decision).
Is your family ready to make additional commitments to reducing your environmental impact through reducing plastics usage?
Take a picture of your mosaic for your portfolio.
How much Trash are you making?
For one week, separate every piece of plastic trash your family makes from the garbage. Not just the recyclables, but ALL of the plastic trash you create.
Daily, keep a tally of how many plastic things and which kinds of things you are throwing out. For example, 6 plastic water bottles, 4 pieces of cling wrap, 9 ziploc bags, 1 bath scrubbie.
At the end of the week weigh the plastic trash.
How much did you make?
Next, brainstorm how you can reduce this as a family.
Could you replace plastic water bottles with reusable ones?
Switch to beeswax wraps from plastic wrap, use paper bags instead of plastic ones?
It’s pretty hard to get rid of ALL plastic waste, but we can all do a better job of reducing it!
Now, spend one more week collecting plastic trash after you’ve reduced your usage.
At the end of the second week, weigh your plastic trash again. How much did you reduce it by?
If you did that for every week of the year, how many pounds of plastic trash would you save?
(Hint: Week one’s weight x 52 weeks tells you how much you were using before. Week two’s weight x 52 weeks estimates how much you are using after reducing your consumption. Subtract the reduced amount from the initial week’s annual amount and you’ll have an estimate of how many pounds per year you can save by continuing to reduce your plastics usage.)
How many people live in your town or city?
100? 1000? 1 million? How many pounds of plastic waste could be saved if EVERYONE reduced their usage by the same amount you have?
Plastics in the Oceans: Solutions Projects
This is the trailer for A Plastic Ocean.
If you are really interested in this topic and who want to dig a little deeper, I recommend spending the time watching the full documentary A Plastic Ocean. To rent the full movie on YouTube, check with your parents and then click here.
If you want a shorter introduction to plastics and their impact on marine and bird life, for older kids, then Plastic Ocean (below) is a good place to start.
Follow it up with Kids Against Plastic, a TedEx talk by two young ladies talk to adults and kids about solutions to single use plastics.
For younger children, Octonauts Keeping the Sea Clean, is a good intro to ocean conservation without getting too scary or sharing graphic images of dead or dying animals.
Next, find a few pieces of plastic around your house, maybe a bottle cap, or a piece of plastic food packaging. Add that to your ocean zones project.
Once you understand a bit about the problem, start brainstorming solutions. Make a list of five ways that you can help solve the plastics in the ocean problem. Choose ONE and start right now. Maybe you want to make a video, or write a paragraph, or make an infographic poster sharing your idea with other people.
Books About plastics in the ocean
Click on a book to buy it from Amazon. Or, you can ask for them at your local library.