Teaching Character and Citizenship

One Actionable Item to Help Protect Oceans
Ocean sample from plankton trawler collects plastic
Image from Allianz Knowledge site

Oceanography students have been studying "The Motion of the Ocean" which consists of air-sea interactions, sea currents, and waves. Some of the vocabulary words from this unit include coriolis effect, Ekman transport, ocean gyres, pressure gradient force, thermohaline circulation, upwellings and downwellings, with the essential question of "How do patterns of physical changes in aquatic systems affect our lives?"

Students read and analyzed article on "the tale of bathtub toys" to assess the reliability of science news reports, to encourage media and science literacy. By the way, a book has now been written about the world journey of the bathtub floatees.

In addition to the textbook lessons and labs, we watched some TED Talks. One was Captain Charles Moore on Seas of Plastic. I was struck by the comment by Captain Moore that "no fishmonger on Earth can sell you a certified organic wild caught fish" because they have all consumed plastic, thinking it food.  Students reflected on this individually and in writing. At the end of the unit, students watched Beth Terry on Living Plastic Free.

Dead Albatross with stomach of plastic
Image from The Plastic-Free Chef

Students were asked to commit to one action item, that they will actually do, to protect the ocean from plastics pollution, and to blog about it. Because of wifi issues in my classroom, none of the laptops would connect to the internet so students handwrote during class and posted later. Their thoughts are here.

There were many students who giggled and did not take the assignment seriously. I racked it up to immaturity, but it still bothered me. When they were disruptive during the TED Talk, I stopped the video and interjected my own thoughts on that point in the video. Over the course of the day/multiple classes, I refined the blog criteria. If I were to assign this blogging assignment again, I would spend more time on the criteria of the reflections and writings.

You may be interested in learning more about Captain Charles Moore's oceanography work or reading Beth Terry's blog on "My Plastic Free Life".

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