Expedition: PlasticSeas Virtual Field Trip Ocean Plastics and You

May 27, 2020 1:00 PM


Join EarthEcho International and Jenna Hartley from NC State University as we learn all about plastics in our oceans. Learn what impact they have, where they come from, and what you can do to help this global problem!


Jenna Hartley

Doctoral Student

Jenna Hartley is a PhD student at North Carolina State University and a NOAA Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar. Jenna is a former classroom science teacher and is advised by Dr. Kathryn Stevenson on a North Carolina Sea-Grant funded research project that examines the role of students as environmental change-agents in their communities, specifically on the topic of marine debris, or plastic pollution.

Jenna is working to train dozens of 4th and 5th grade teachers in a marine debris curriculum developed by the Duke University Marine Lab Community Science program. Several thousand students just spent most of their school year learning about marine debris, participating in an international citizen-science trash clean-up, and sharing what they learned with their parents, community members, and local officials through community outreach events. Jenna thinks that young people are uniquely poised to play important roles in tackling environmental grand challenges and is excited to share that with you!

Classroom Resources

PlasticSeas: Establish Our Seas

Plastic is ubiquitous and a material that many of us take for granted, especially single-use plastics. While plastic offers convenience and versatility, we have to consider that every piece of plastic ever made still exists on the planet. Philippe Cousteau meets with Mark Rodrigue from Parks Victoria at the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre, and biologist and filmmaker Sheree Marris, to learn more about the unique ecosystem of southern Australian. Dive in with Philippe and fur seals and more in Port Phillip Bay.

PlasticSeas: Product Life Cycle

In this investigation, students describe the life cycle of man-made products that include or originate from plastic to evaluate how they may impact the environment. Students use a basic life cycle assessment – similar to assessments used by process engineers – that allows them to identify and order the different steps in the life cycle of a product. Using their analyses to compare the impacts of different products, students develop ideas to reduce the environmental impact of the production process or lifecycle of the product.

Waste Stream
Rethinking Waste

PlasticSeas: Microbeads, A Major Problem

As the name suggests, microbeads are very small (microscopic) beads of plastic. Since they are particles of less than 1mm, they are almost impossible to capture as they enter household drains. This leaves these small, solid balls of plastic to enter our aquatic ecosystems where they are ingested by organisms and accumulated within the food web. In this activity, students are challenged to design and construct their own device to extract microplastics from cosmetic products such as facial cleansers, body wash, and toothpaste.

Waste Stream
Marine Debris

Science Standards