Curriculum Focusing on the Impact of Plastics on the Planet

In partnership with the Guy Harvey Foundation and Ocean First Education, Brightmark is working to empower students around the globe to join a team of sustainability professionals in “Changing the Tide”—focusing on the impact of plastics on oceans, marine life, and the entire planet.

The partnership has led to a free K–5 curriculum and three ocean cleanups with coastal schools—and more is in the works. The curriculum is intended to educate students—especially those who live near coasts—about the environmental impact of plastics and sustainability pathways.

The course of study, which has been used in 1,250 classrooms, includes science, art, and literacy lessons by grade level. For example, in a week-long unit called “Plastic Pollution, Plastic Solution,” students learn about the lifecycle of plastics and the technologies that reconvert plastic into new materials. A third-grade lesson in the unit educates students on the effects of pollution on humans and animals, and in an English language arts lesson, students write haikus to spread awareness. The lessons culminate in a schoolwide art installation where students make a coral reef from discarded plastic. Each standards-align lesson includes a detailed instructor guide and slide presentation.

The initiative also offers a high school–level curriculum, “Marine Science 101.” The full Marine Science 101 course provides engaging and innovative approaches to teaching science, technology, mathematics, and engineering. The full, facilitated or self-directed course includes access to interviews with leading-edge scientists and up-to-date research, and requires students to actively participate through scientific inquiry using critical thinking skills, data analysis, and explanation construction based on their observations.

Both the elementary school and the high school curricula will be available in Spanish.

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