Educating about Plastics
PTMSC has been leading education efforts on many levels to raise awareness of the environmental damage caused by plastics and encourage creative ways of turning this problem around.

The Layson's Albatross is a focal point of our educational programs. This bird is at grave risk because feeds entirely from the the ocean surface. Plastic particles acumulating in the center of circular currents, called "gyres," are ingested by albatross and either fed to their chicks or regurgitated in pellets called boli (plural for bolus), similar to owl pellets.

Unlike adults, the chicks are unable to rid themselves of the plastic, and they often die of starvation because there is no room left in their stomachs for real food.

Albatross boli, sent to us by researchers in Hawaii, are a poignant prop in our educational programs. Students dissect them to discover plastics objects they recognize as things they themselves may have discarded.

Jen Kingfisher with model of Layson's Albatross

Education for Students
PTMSC educators have worked with over 2,000 school aged students, dissecting plastic-ridden boluses of Laysan Albatross and discussing the perils of plastics in the marine environment.  Many students have come up with personal and classroom wide ‘Action Plans’ to reduce their use of plastic, and preventing plastic from reaching the sea.  Although we are no longer sending our educators to teach in school classrooms, the program Plastics in the Marine Environment is one of the educational programs we offer to youth groups and schools at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.

Resources for Teachers
Teachers interested in bringing this issue into their classroom can find support through workshops arranged with Plastics Program Coordinator, Jen Kingfisher. Educators receive curriculum and materials at the workshops, and those who have attended the training may borrow a class set of Laysan Albatross boli to use in their own classroom. The following teaching materials are downloadable here as PDFs:

Lesson plan, Plastics in the Marine Environment
Slide show, Albatross Lesson

Programs for Adult Audiences
To arrange a lecture or for questions about other plastics program education options, contact Plastics Program Coordinator, Jen Kingfisher.