Ocean Pollution and Solutions

Illustration by Sam Alexander



This unit was developed in the Spring of 1996 by Cheryl Rondestvedt at Memorial Academy in the San Diego Unified School District's Triton Project, a Challenge Grant funded by the U. S. Department of Education.

Oceans of the world are vital to the earth and to the people who inhabit it. Oceans cover approximately 75% of the earth's surface and provide food, natural resources, and recreation for many people. Care of the oceans is vital to the survival of not only the ocean's inhabitants, but to earth's land dwellers as well. Sustaining and preserving the ocean's unique habitats will enhance the well being of all the earth's denizens.

Content Areas and Grades

This unit is anchored in seventh grade Language Arts and Social Studies. The unit can easily be extended to any grade as well as to a variety of subjects.

Organizing Theme and Guiding Questions

This unit is tied together with the underlying theme of interdependence. Global thinking is stressed to tie independent inhabitants together to insure all species have a vital interest in the vast oceans that cover our earth.
  1. What pollution is in the ocean around the geographic area your group has chosen?
  2. What is causing the pollution in that area?
  3. Who and what is being affected by the pollution?
  4. How is the ocean affected?
  5. What is your group's solution to the pollution?
  6. Are any organizations or groups doing anything to help?

Objectives,Goals, and Curriculum Standards

As a result of the unit students will meet several curriculum standards from the California, San Diego, and other frameworks. These include Cultural Awareness, Economic Interconnectedness, Georgraphic Awareness, and the Relationships among various nations and peoples.

This unit also teaches independent and higher order thinking skills. These thinking skills include inference, critcal thinking, creative production, problem-solving, and teamwork.

The specific objectives of this unit drawn from the the National New Standards Project are to:

Implementation Overview

This unit will be implemented over several weeks within the classroom setting. During the initial part of the unit one hour blocks of time will be needed for research. Later longer periods of time may be needed for conferencing, discussion, writing, and putting newsletters together. The entire unit should take approximately 3 weeks in duration. This unit is interdisciplinary, encompassing Social Studies and Language Arts.

Material Resources Needed

Materials needed for this unit include:

Human Resources Needed

A field trip to an oceanographic research center is a wonderful way to begin this unit. This focuses the student's energy as they respond to the interdependency of living organisism, and the scientists who are working to solve world pollution problems.

Entry Level Skills and Knowledge

Students participating in this unit are expected to come with grade level skills in reading and writing. A general knowledge of computer operations and word processing skills would be helpful.

Teachers need to have experience using internet and Clarisworks Assistance (Newsletter) to complete the unit as written, and be able to effectively teach computer skills to the students involved with the unit.

Outline of Activities for Students

  1. Choose a group of four students to form a team. Each team has four members (editor, note taker, computer operator, and URL manager).
  2. Identify an area of ocean pollution that is troubling to your group.
  3. Conduct an internet search.
  4. Use a computer generated map to show geographic location of your selected polluted area.
  5. Identify the causes of the pollution.
  6. Determine what effect this pollution has on the inhabitants of the water, land, and sea in the polluted area.
  7. Contact officials via Internet, video conferencing, or written letter to see what the local government is doing to combat the pollution source.
  8. Have your group come up with solutions to combat the pollution problems.
  9. Create a newsletter that tells of your findings.
  10. Present your findings to the class for videotaping.

Week 1Students will determine their topic of research and surf the internet to find information relevant to their area of study, bookmarking or saving information as it is found.
Week 2This week is spent reading, discussing, assigning topics, finding or drawing graphics, contacting local officials, and writing articles to be used in their respective newsletters.
Week 3The final week is used to prepare their newsletter for publication and then publishing and presenting it to other class members.


Students will be evaluated by each member of their working group as well as on the final outcome of their newsletter and presentation to the class. Student evaluation will lend itself to evaluation of work accomplished by each member. Students know who contributed to the project and who did not. Teacher evaluation will include student behavior, newsletter outcome, Language Arts, and Social Studies grade.


This unit is worthy of consideration for use by all teachers with internet access. Students not only gain information in curriculum areas of Language Arts and Social Studies, but also will gain additional knowledge from computer based research, computer usage, and group dynamics all within the scope of interdependency revolving around our oceans.

Last updated on August 16, 1996.
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