Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wood doing good

This is a guest post written by Nate Ivy, Coordinator of the Service-Learning Waste Reduction Project (SLWRP) -- a joint venture between and the Alameda County Office of Education. Students at Wood Middle School recently organized their 2nd Annual Beach Clean-Up as part of their participation in the program. These same kids have also participated in Save The Bay field trips to learn more about their watershed and the ways in which their actions impact the health of the Bay.

Enjoy the post!

Wood Middle School 2nd Annual Beach Clean-Up

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

At first glance, Crown Memorial Beach in Alameda appears to be a clean, pleasant retreat highlighted by sweeping views of San Francisco. Unlike many other public shorelines along the San Francisco Bay, Crown Beach does not appear on a list of Trash Hot Spots. However, students from Wood Middle School in Alameda discovered that looks can be deceiving as they participated in their 2nd annual microscopic beach clean-up.

Designed by science teacher Jeannette Frechou, the microscopic clean-up focuses on small bits of plastic that birds and other animals often confuse for bite sized bits of food. A close examination of the high tide line reveals a smorgasbord of multicolored plastics that easily float on the surface of the water.

"People are jerks! Who would do something like this?" one student declares.

In fact, students found many bits of debris from products they themselves use. Data tracking sheets reported the collection of plastic forks, bottle caps, salsa packets, and even a small plastic army man.

"We all do it," replies another. "It's not like people come and throw this on the beach... every piece of litter that falls on the ground or out of our car door gets washed down to the beach. We all have to be more careful." As if to emphasize the source of litter, a storm drain outlet peeks out of the receeding tide- connected to a storm drain one block from school labeled, "No Dumping! Drains to Bay."

This year, students have been working to do more than just be more careful with litter they produce, they have been studying choices that help to eliminate waste before it is produced. Staff and students from Wood Middle School have engaged in a partnership with the Alameda County Office of Education and Save The Bay to address marine debris through a grant provided by NOAA.

Earlier this year, students wrote letters to the editor addressing the challenge of candy wrappers entering the ecosystem at Halloween. In a study of healthy eating, students observed that healthier food choices usually use less packaging and benefit both human and environmental health. In just 60 seconds, one participant picked up 13 soda bottle caps along the tideline highlighting the challenges to our health and our environment.

Frechou helped students make further connections at the beach as she pointed out a tar ball, likely a legacy of the Cosco Busan oil spill of 2007. "Plastic is made from oil. We use a huge amount of oil to transport so many of the things we buy from all around the world. To help avoid spills in the future, we need to use less oil and less plastic."

Ms. VerDuin, another participating teacher from Wood, plans to use the beach clean up activity as a starting point for a discussion on marine debris, oceanic currents, the Pacific Garbage patch and the impact of plastic on wildlife. "There is a disturbing series of photos from Chris Jordan taken at Midway Atoll that shows birds killed by bits of plastic just like the ones we are cleaning up today. The clean-up activity will really help students connect to this global problem."

Click here to see the original post, complete with photos!

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