NOAA Marine Debris Program Educator Newsletter: August 2017

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NOAA Marine Debris Program 

Educator Newsletter

Students in a circle, learning about marine debris.

Check out the Hawai'i Wildlife Fund's Marine Debris Keiki Education & Outreach curriculum
(Photo Credit: Hawai'i Wildlife Fund)

August 2017

Welcome to the first issue of the NOAA Marine Debris Program's quarterly Educator Newsletter!

Let us know what you think!

We are always happy to receive feedback on our marine debris resources so that we can ensure we produce useful content for educators. Feel free to reach out to let us know what you think! 

What’s working for you? What new resources would you like to see? 

Let us know by emailing:


Child's drawing of a seal with debris around it. (Emily E., Grade 1, Alaska)

Annual Art Contest

The NOAA Marine Debris Program's annual art contest is almost here!

This year's contest will be open to K-8 students from October 16th through November 30th. Winners will be featured in our 2019 calendar. Keep your eye on our website for more information as it gets closer. 

2018 Calendar Cover

2018 Calendars Available

The NOAA Marine Debris Program's 2018 Marine Debris Calendar is now available for download. Limited hard copies are also available, email if interested. 

This calendar features the winners of last year's art contest and serves as a reminder to be the solution to marine debris every day!


Check out some of our many other marine debris resources, including posters, activities, videos, and curricula.

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Featured Resource


Monitoring Toolkit for Educators

Engage your class in some marine debris monitoring using the new Marine Debris Monitoring Toolkit for Educators!

Created through a collaboration between the NOAA Marine Debris Program and Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, the new toolkit takes the robust citizen science Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project and modifies it for classroom use. Students can get involved in surveying their local area for marine debris and entering their findings into a national database. This information helps us determine where, when, and what kind of debris is showing up and can help inform management decisions. 

Check out the Monitoring Toolkit for Educators and get your class involved in data collection, analysis, and involvement in their community!

Featured Activity

Hands holding spoons and scooping a rice/lentil mixture.

Plastic is a Deadly Meal

Teach your students about the hazards of marine debris with this simple and interactive activity. Using a mixture of rice and lentils to represent food and plastic debris, students are tasked with getting as much "food" onto their plate as they can within a given time. Racing against other students either in pairs or in relay teams, students will employ different strategies to get the job done. This is a great way to get talking about ratios and the ingestion of marine debris.

Check out a demonstration of this and other activities in the Trash Talk Webinar for Educators!

Marine Debris Craft Corner

A plastic bag in a jar of water next to a photo of jellyfish.

Jellyfish Jars

Put some of your old plastic bags to use and help students see firsthand why sea turtles and other animals often mistake plastic single-use bags in the ocean for food. This easy-to-make Jellyfish Jar is a strong visual and can stimulate great discussion on reducing waste!


Step 1: Fill a transparent jar with water (containers with screw-on lids work best).

Step 2: Place a plastic bag in the jar, trimming the bag as needed (produce bags work best).

Step 3: Carefully manipulate the bag to eliminate any air bubbles.

Step 4: Close the lid tightly and admire your plastic bag jellyfish!