Guides for Teachers (STEM or STEAM)
Integrate Plastic Pollution into Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics or Other Classes
Review Vision and Mission of STEM Education in Your State
Step 1. STEM Education is a way for K-12 students to learn about scientific research methods and engineering design. There are many ways to help students explore the connections between STEM areas to see how they are important in our everyday lives. Read more about the vision and mission of STEM education in New Hampshire here: NH Dept. of Education: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education. (If you are not a teacher, approach a teacher and see if they are interested in implementing this action.)
Ideas to Integrate Plastics into Your Lesson Plans
Step 2. Take time to brainstorm. Think of subject areas where plastic manufacture, plastic pollution, plastic waste, plastic recycling, plastic disposal, etc. could be integrated into a lesson plan. And remember, sometimes an 'A' for Art is added to STEM to make STEAM. Make your own list of ideas or have conversations with other teachers or parents.
We strongly urge you to consider focussing on zero-waste actions. And check out our infographic: Resources for Teachers - Toward a Plastic-Free World
Explore the Web for STEM-related Plastic Pollution Education Ideas
Step 3. In New Hampshire, the Green Mountain Conservation Group has been implementing a project, Microplastic Research in the Ossipee Watershed. They also have a Less Plastics Initiative that includes an educational tool, the 2022 Less Plastic Guide. The guide uses a diverse and interdisciplinary approach, which incorporates science, culture, art, engineering, and mathematics. Students learning through the Guide explore a research question, conduct investigations, collect evidence, use the evidence to describe their findings, and communicate their findings to an audience.
Teachers can see what Maine teacher, Tish Manning, and her students have done through BRRR (Belfast Refuse Reduce Reuse Recycle) a group of third, fourth, and fifth graders who volunteer their time to reduce waste in the school to protect the ocean. Their projects include a waste audit and zero-waste lunch days, all described in Manning's article in NOAA's publication, Earth Scientist, in the 2021 edition dedicated to NOAA Planet Steward winners like Manning: Educator Stewardship Projects (noaa.gov)
Across the ocean in Scotland, the Marine Conservation Society has a lesson plan on Marine Litter that you might find useful. And this resource, Plastic Pollution Resource Collection from the National Geographic Society, may be of interest. Another resource from Plastic Free July is Plastic Free July - What You Can Do for Teachers.
Design, Implement and Evaluate Your Lesson
Step 4. Use or adapt one of the resources provided in Step 3 above to carry out a lesson about plastic. Have your students share outcomes of their learning with other classes in your school, your principal, your students' parents, or your community.
It's Elementary: Refuse Plastic Save the Seas! from NOAA Educator Stewardship Projects
Plastic Pollution Resource Collection from the National Geographic Society
Ten Towns • Ten Actions Leader Resource: Patsy Beffa-Negrini and Cynthia Walter