NOAA Marine Debris Program Educator Newsletter: November 2017

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NOAA Marine Debris Program 

Educator Newsletter

Students painting signs to encourage people to stop littering and to recycle.

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

November 2017

the second 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:


2018 Calendar Cover

Annual Art Contest

The NOAA Marine Debris Program's annual art contest is now open!

Students in grades K-8 are encouraged to submit their entry by November 30th. Winners will be featured in our 2019 calendar. Check out our website for more information and how to enter.


Student drawing of water bottles containing the ocean, with one bottle full of murky, polluted water. (Credit: Bow Seat)

Creative Advocacy Competition

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs has launched their second Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition for U.S. middle and high school students! Funded by a NOAA Marine Debris Program Prevention grant, this competition serves as a fun and exciting way for students to actively take part in preventing marine debris by carrying out real-world projects. 

Check out the competition's webpage for more information and how to enter. 


Trash on a beach.

Ohio PSA Contest

Are your students in grades 9-12 and located in the Lake Erie region of Ohio? If your answer's "yes," encourage them to take on the Ohio Marine Debris Challenge and help spread the word about marine debris by creating a public service announcement (PSA)! Entries are due March 16, 2018. Check out our website for more information and how to enter.

What is Marine Debris poster.

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

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Featured Resource

Masks created by students as part of the Washed Ashore curriculum.

Photo Credit: Washed Ashore

Integrated Arts Curriculum

Engage your class in marine debris through the power of art! Washed Ashore, a group that creates and exhibits marine debris art to raise awareness of plastic pollution, has created an Integrated Arts Marine Debris Curriculum with funding from the NOAA Marine Debris Program. Using the language of the arts, this curriculum works to educate students about marine debris, plastic use in our society, and how to prevent marine debris both individually and as a community.

Although it's geared toward middle school students, the Integrated Arts Marine Debris Curriculum can be easily adapted for all grade levels and includes many activities and lessons that can be used as stand-alone classroom resources. Check it out and get your class involved!

Featured Activity

A student spraying water on a watershed model.

Watershed Model 

Use a watershed model to teach your students that we're all connected to the ocean, even if we don't live on the shore. If you have one handy, that's great! If you don't, it's easy to make one yourself using a variety of materials-- it can even be as simple as using objects of various heights with a tarp draped over them. Decorate your watershed with houses, cars, factories, etc.-- make it relatable to your students. 

To make your watershed come to life, have students add debris in the places they think make sense-- maybe near some houses where trash may have blown out of the garbage cans or in the park where people might picnic. You can use whatever you like to represent debris, including oatmeal, rice, or lentils. Using a spray bottle to simulate rain, show your students how debris ends up in the same place-- down the watershed and into the water, likely leading to larger and larger water bodies potentially far from where the debris originated. Talk to your students about how we can all contribute to-- and help prevent!--marine debris, regardless of where we live.

Check out other activities in the Trash Talk Webinar for Educators!

Marine Debris Craft Corner

Graphic of a tank top, cut and sewn to be a bag given as a gift.

Tank Top/T-shirt Bags

Get your students involved in preventing marine debris by reusing and repurposing old materials! If you have some old tank tops or t-shirts lying around, revitalize them by creating new reusable bags. They could even make the perfect gift for someone special during the upcoming holiday season.


Step 1: Grab an old t-shirt or tank top. If it has sleeves, cut them off.

Step 2: If you're comfortable with sewing, cut your shirt to your desired height (this will be the depth of your bag). Don't forget to leave some room for the hem! If you'd prefer the no-sew route, then cut the bottom of your shirt into 1-inch strips up to your desired height (basically creating fringe at the bottom of your shirt). 

Step 3: Turn your shirt inside out. If you're using needle and thread, sew across the bottom. Otherwise, start tying the strips of fabric you created together (so one strip from the front of the shirt is tied to the corresponding strip on the back of the shirt).

Step 4: Turn your shirt/bag inside out again, so the design is facing the outside. If your shirt doesn't have a design or you'd like to spruce it up, decorate the outside with fabric markers.

Step 5: Enjoy your fabulous, reusable bag!