NY Sea Grant curriculum teaches ways to reduce plastic pollution in marine, freshwater environments

Niagara Falls with a tour boat below it.

By NY Sea Grant

Release Date: April 29, 2022

“The curriculum will serve an important role to inspire the next generation of coastal stewards. ”
Rebecca L. Shuford, director
New York Sea Grant

BUFFALO, N.Y. – New York Sea Grant has published “Plastic Pollution and You,” a 126-page, 15-lesson curriculum geared for grades 3-12 that's focused on a human-induced threat to the health of New York's marine and freshwater aquatic ecosystems.

The lessons and activities urge students to think about what plastic is, how they use plastic, and about the consequences of plastic pollution in the environment. They learn the different types of plastics, their impact on marine and freshwater ecosystems, and about the recycling process and trash capture technology.

Skills developed through the curriculum lessons include data collection, charting, mapping, position statement preparation, and the design of technological solutions, behavior change campaigns, public policy, and community-level action to address the plastic pollution problem.

“New York Sea Grant was pleased to provide its experience and expertise in this collaborative effort to develop a new and innovative curriculum to educate and prompt interest in reducing and preventing plastic pollution across New York State’s marine and freshwater environments – from our Atlantic Ocean shoreline and Long Island Sound to the Hudson River Estuary, St. Lawrence and Niagara rivers, and the state’s two Great Lakes. The curriculum will serve an important role to inspire the next generation of coastal stewards,” said New York Sea Grant Director Rebecca L. Shuford, PhD.

The curriculum was co-authored by Kathleen Fallon, PhD, a coastal processes and hazards specialist with New York Sea Grant and Nate Drag, associate director of the Great Lakes Program at the University at Buffalo and literary specialist with New York Sea Grant.

It aligns with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) New York Ocean Action Plan and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric’s (NOAA) Marine Debris Program initiatives in New York’s coastal regions, including the Great Lakes.

In addition to several teachers from across New York State, representatives from DEC, the NOAA Marine Debris Program, Michigan State University Extension, Maryland and New York Sea Grant programs, and Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker participated in reviewing the curriculum.

A recording of New York Sea Grant's “Plastic Pollution and You” curriculum introduction webinar for teachers and educators is available online at http://www.nyseagrant.org/plasticpollution.

Funding for this curriculum development was provided through New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund administered by DEC.

New York Sea Grant is a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, and one of 34 university-based programs working with coastal communities through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Learn more at www.nyseagrant.org.

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