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.  NEW! from the Green Mountain Conservation Group: Volunteer Biological Assessment Program Stream Data Collection Report for the Saco Watershed 2023, which found microplastics in all samples collected. (Photo from the report.)

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 (

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. 


An Example from New Hampshire!

For Earth Day 2023, the students at Cornish Elementary School used "Goldie Fish" to research and post about plastics and microplastics. 

Quite impressive work - with references too!