Marine Debris

Marine Debris

Watch this brief, video picture of practice that captures everyday classroom life and provides real-life examples of how students learn and think about ocean topics.


3 - 8


Earth Science, Oceanography

Students who have been to a beach may have seen trash washed onto the shore. Some students may have heard about a tax on bottles or plastic bags to reduce use of these items and the chance those items make their way to the ocean. Marine debris is a major environmental threat to our ocean, and students clearly understand some of the negative consequences that debris has on ocean health. Yet, when most students describe debris they focus on intentional littering at the beach and may not recognize that much of the debris also comes from inland communities where runoff carries trash to our ocean. Students may not realize that widespread use of "disposable" plastics around the world and poor management of plastic waste has led to massive buildup of debris in certain parts of our ocean.

Watch this video of 5th and 7th grade students in coastal communities in California. The purpose of this classroom video is to see how students describe pollution in the ocean.

For additional classroom context, video analysis, and reflection opportunities, read the Picture of Practice page for "Marine Debris" in the One Ocean Environmental Literacy Teacher Guide, page 80.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

E. Tucker Hirsh, M.S. Environmental Science and Management
Tara G. Treiber, B.A. Natural Sciences: Ecology
L. Jeremy Richardson, Ph.D. Physics
Marcia S. Matz, M.A. Design
Meghan E. Marrero, Ed.D. Science Education
Amanda P. Jaksha, M.Ed. Teaching and Teacher Education
Rachel J. Fisher, M.S. Biology
Cindy Olson
Julie Brown, National Geographic Society
Kristen Dell, National Geographic Society
Lindsey Mohan, Ph.D.
Chelsea Zillmer
Educator Reviewers
Catie Boarts, Heal the Bay
Meghan E. Marrero, New York State Marine Education Association (NYSMEA)
Tara G. Treiber, Heal the Bay
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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