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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


Looking for more STEM activities?

Inspired by the Club Invention® module Trash Island: A Garbage Patch Journey, this activity is a great way to explore the importance of ocean conservation. While there have been disruptions to this school year, Club Invention can help make your child’s next year better than ever.

We invite you to check out our brand new at-home learning resources page for STEM activities, activity sheets and challenges from our very own NIHF Inductees.

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