The Drastic Plastic Challenge

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The Drastic Plastic Challenge

EDGE OF THE PACIFIC Community of Practice series

Session #1


Plastics are all around us, and serve many useful functions in our daily lives. Unfortunately, many plastics also make their way into aquatic and marine environments, posing a threat to wildlife and ecosystem health. In this Community of Practice session, educators will focus on helping learners make connections between the daily use of plastics in our lives with the problem of plastic marine debris. We'll also talk about how to help learners identify how to reduce their use of single-use (and other) plastics, and how personal and classroom behavior changes can help empower students and communities to address big environmental problems.


Last August, Oregon educators gathered at the coast for a workshop led by the authors of Ellie’s Strand: Exploring the Edge of the Pacific. In the book, 11-year-old protagonists Ellie and Ricky visit an Oregon beach to participate in a community beach clean-up, and are amazed by their discoveries at the edge of the world’s largest ocean. With a compelling story and colorful pen-and-ink drawings, the book is a terrific companion for 4th -6th grade classrooms.

Just like Ellie and Ricky, participants in the August educator workshop engaged in hands-on learning activities connected to observation and nature journaling at the beach. We also discussed strategies for engaging students in coastal exploration and stewardship actions.

To keep the momentum from the workshop going, Oregon Sea Grant has established three online Community of Practice sessions for formal and informal educators during the 2019-20 school year. Through these regular interactions, we can continue learning around our shared interests of nature journaling, student stewardship, and coastal exploration. Along with authors Peg Herring and Judy Li, participants will discuss successes and challenges implementing these activities with youth, and get ideas from teaching peers and community partners.

At the end of each session, the names of participants will be entered into a drawing to win cool stuff!

Invitation to Participate

All interested educators are welcome to attend, even those who were not part of the summer workshop. Ideally, participants will be able to attend all three sessions. Each 90-minute session will be conducted online through the Zoom videoconferencing platform on Thursdays from 7:00pm – 8:30pm.
NOTE: Session #2 will be on February 6th and Session #3 on April 30th.

To participate in the November 7th session, please register in advance. Registered participants will be sent the Zoom login information before the meeting.

Advance Preparation

To make the most of this session, participants are asked to complete the following assignments prior to November 7th:

  1. Read Ellie's Strand: Exploring the Edge of the Pacific by M.L. Herring and Judy Li.
  2. Like Ellie and Ricky did in Chapter 4 (p. 54-55), visit an outdoor area (schoolyard, streambank, beach) with your students, and collect materials found on the ground. Sort the materials into those that come from nature, and materials that were made and discarded by humans. If you don’t have students, you can do this with another audience that you work with, coworkers/friends/family, or on your own.
  3. Define single-use plastics with your students, and have them make a list of all the single-use plastics they can find in the classroom. If you don't have students, you can reflect on your workplace or home.
  4. Challenge students to come up with a plan to eliminate single-use plastics such as bags, bottles, straws, etc. If possible, explore and record what plastics that are thrown away at school.

MWEEs by the Sea cohort

NOTE: This PD counts for 1.5 hours for those teachers participating in the MWEEs by the Sea: Diving Deeper cohort.


Read more about the Ellie's Strand project
If you have questions, please contact Cait Goodwin at

This project is supported by a 2019 Oregon Sea Grant Program Development award.

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