Six student leaders from the Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception sixth grade celebrated the culmination of their months-long Ocean Plastic Pollution project with an overnight experience at the Monterey Bay Aquarium where they presented their research and data to more than 350 students, teachers, and aquarium staff from around California and Nevada.
The student attendees were all leaders at their school sites (43 elementary through high schools participated) investigating the harmful effects of single-use plastic on the environment, especially marine animals. The goal of the year-long Aquarium-sponsored OPP summit was to enlist young minds and youthful energy to spread awareness of this global environmental problem, elicit an emotional connection, and inspire change in how people perceive and use plastic.
The representatives for Saint Mary School, under the guidance of their teachers, Mrs. Lynne Dickerson and Mrs. Erin Brand-Delgado were Sam Baumuller, Taylor DeMaesStri, Shae McGinnis, Gavin Olechowski, Lucas Shannon, and Sofia Venzon. Their project, OP3: Ocean Plastic Pollution Partners…Teaming Up to End Single-Use Plastic, celebrated the importance of enlisting community partners to spread the word. Student research included online dissection of an albatross bolus to see the incredible amount of plastic consumed, student-created home and school plastic use surveys, and in-depth study and discussion of info-graphics from the Ocean Conservancy. Student projects varied from an interactive website, TedEdSM talk, and illustrated, digital children’s books to carrying out a “Straw Wars” test to determine student preference for non-plastic straws, and presenting to local restaurants about reducing their single-use plastic, especially straws.