Litter Survey
Lesson 2
Lesson 3
Lesson 4
Lesson One
Talking Trash
Objective: To define "marine debris" and to learn the types and amounts of marine debris found each year in national beach cleanups in the United States. 

Activity: Students bring in different trash items and define "marine debris" through a discussion about these items. Students then categorize debris and use statistics and graphing to better understand the types and amounts of marine debris that are found each year. 

Vocabulary: Debris, foamed plastic, marine, marine debris, trash 


· Enough copies o the "1997 Beach Cleanup Results" handout for each student in the class 

· A large box 

Subjects: Language arts, mathematics, science 

Learning Skills: Analyzing, calculating, classifying, collecting data, observing 

Duration: 40 minutes 

Grade level: 4-12 

Lesson Activities 
    1. Ask every student to bring in a nonfood piece of trash. Tell students to be sure that the trash is clean and dry, does not have food stuck to it and is not sharp. (Note: to prevent accidents, you may wish to tell students not to bring in glass. Instead, you can bring in a few glass articles so the discussion of debris will be complete.)
    2. Have each student bring his or her piece of trash to the front of the room, display it to the class, and put it in a large box. Ask the students what these items have in common. Through this discussion, identify the characteristics of "trash" and develop a definition. Write the definition on the board. Then ask students to think of synonyms for "trash" and help them come up with the term "debris". List all of the synonyms on the board.
    3. Now that "debris" as been defined, ask students what "marine" means. Write the definition on the board. Ask the students to list synonyms for marine and write them on the board.
    4. Then combine the terms and discuss the meaning of "marine debris". Write this definition on the board. Use the lists of synonyms to come up with other terms that describe the concept of "marine debris" (such as "sea trash" and ocean waste").
    5. Take a piece of trash out of the box one by one and ask students to classify the type of debris they are (plastic, glass, metal, etc.).
    6. Print out and distribute the "1997 Tampa Bay Beach Cleanup Results" handouts to the class. Inform the students that the Center for Marine Conservation (CMC) sponsors beach cleanup campaigns all over the country. Explain that volunteers record the items they find when they clean up beaches and send this information to CMC, which complies these lists every year.
    7. Ask the students to use the "1997 Beach Cleanup Results" handout to make a bar graph comparing the quantities of the different types of debris (plastic, glass, metal, etc.) collected in the cleanup. Have the students add the total number of plastic items, the total number of glass items, etc., to complete the handout. (Note: If students have difficulty adding such a long list of numbers, you can give them the totals: plastic items, glass items, rubber items, metal items, paper items, wood items, and cloth items.)
    8. Next, have students label the horizontal axis of the bar graph as "category of marine debris" and write the different categories under the horizontal axis "number of items collected" and mark the axis from 0 to 3,000,000. Finally, tell the students to use the totals from the "1997 Beach Cleanup Results" handout to complete the bar graph. (Note: As a class, you can create a three-dimensional bulletin board to display the bar graph. After drawing the bar graph on a large piece of paper, tack the paper to the bulletin board. Then glue or tape examples of the types of trash represented by the bar graph around it.) 

    9. Hand out 1998 Tampa Bay Cleanup Stats sheet. Ask students to calculate the percentage of total volunteers from each county, number of volunteers, pounds of debris collected, and number of shoreline miles. 


Tampa Bay Cleanup Stats for 1998

3,358 volunteers
106,873 pounds of debris
96 miles of shoreline

4,303 volunteers
121,149 pounds of debris
129 miles of shoreline

875 volunteers
18,608 pounds of debris
85 miles of shoreline

Determine the total number of volunteers from the three counties and calculate the percentage each county had.