One of the great things about science is that it connects kids to the larger world. When we collaborated on Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch we used words and images to show kids how three trash detectives employed the scientific method to tackle the problem of marine debris. Although our readers don’t drive and don’t vote, we wanted to encourage them to affect change through their actions.
So on World Oceans Day 2015, we challenge you to tell us how you learned about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and what you’re doing about it. To stimulate your creativity, we’d like to introduce you to a 4th grader and a 2nd grader who decided to make a difference.
Two sisters named Gabriella and Francesca contacted us to share a video they’d made inspired by a pollution unit in school. The girls wrote, “We did a research project on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch as part of our science unit on oceans. We used your book Plastic, Ahoy as part of our research. As a result of our research we made an 8-minute video about the problem of the Patch and simple ways people can help reduce their plastic use.”
This is exactly the type of engagement we’d hoped for!
Gabriella and Francesca’s father wrote to tell us that “the project was their idea and not required by their school. They were studying about pollution in school and came across the Garbage Patch. They were so disturbed about the Patch that they wanted to learn more on their own. After reading your book and watching a few short videos by some other scientists, they wanted “to do something” about the problem. Learning about it was not enough. They did some more reading and decided to make a presentation and then the video” to help raise awareness.
Motivated to study their own plastic use habits, Gabriella and Francesca approached the problem using science. You’ll see in the video how they sorted and counted their plastic waste, and graphed the results. But that wasn’t enough for these two precocious girls. They instituted changes within their family and reran the experiment. When they compared the before and after figures, they were shocked to learn that little changes can add up to big results. The girls’ father says, “It really is amazing how much we learned as a family about our plastic use and waste. Their research completely changed our shopping and living habits for the better.”
Let Gabriella and Francesca be your guides. Send us your story. How did you discover the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and what are you doing about it?
—Patricia Newman and Annie Crawley
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