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STEM Activities

STEM Activity: Ocean Clean-Up Device

Reduce pollution by inventing ways to remove waste from the ocean, while making sure that the marine life remains unharmed.   


Materials Needed

  • Pony beads, plastic cups and/or other small items to represent pollutants
  • Rubber fish or objects that represent marine life
  • Small container, bucket or inflatable pool
  • Upcycling and crafting materials that can be used to create inventions
  • Water


At-Home or In-Classroom Instructions

1. Research the garbage patches that form in the world’s oceans. Brainstorm solutions to clean up these problematic areas.

Fill a container, bucket, or pool to represent the ocean.

3. Place various objects in the water to represent marine life (e.g., rubber fish) and pollutants (e.g., pony beads, plastic cups).

4. Invent a device that can remove plastics and other objects from the water, but avoids bycatch (untargeted aquatic or marine life)!

5. Test, modify and retest the device. Then, celebrate being a green (and blue) change agent!


What are we learning?

First established on April 22, 1970, Earth Day represents both the birth of the modern environmental movement and a time when the world comes together to promote the importance of caring for our planet. This hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) activity gives children the opportunity to build the creative thinking skills that are needed to solve complex challenges. National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Inductee Jacqueline Quinn embraced the power of teamwork when developing the environmentally safe clean-up technology emulsified zero-valent iron (EZVI) with a team of researchers at the University of Central Florida. Today, EZVI is licensed for commercial use and is used to decontaminate groundwater that contains dense nonaqueous phase liquids


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