Trashy Beaches, and not the good kind.

Last week, Sailors for the Sea and 5GYRES met in Hull Cove in Jamestown, RI to train sailing instructors on how to teach with Rainy Day Kits – our environmental lesson plans focused on marine ecology that can be taught to students in sailing programs and other low resource environments. This blog features a new lesson plan, created by 5GYRES, to be available for download on our website later this month!

Program Director Annie Brett teaches sailing instructors about our newest Rainy Day Kit.

Program Director Annie Brett teaches sailing instructors about our newest Rainy Day Kit.

Ever heard of Alexander Parkes? In 1856, he patented the first man-made plastic and as a species we have never looked back. For more than 150 years of using plastic as a panacea for everything from vinyl siding for homes to exfoliates in face wash. Quite a bit of it has ended up in one of five locations: North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic and Indian ocean gyres. And these plastics are dangerous for the ocean environment. Not only is the trouble with sea life eating them or getting tangled, but plastics also accumulates chemical pollutants that can poison organisms.

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An instructor sifting through sand looking for mircoplastic.

And the gyres are not the only ocean places where plastics accumulate. They can also be found locally. 5GYRES has designed an excellent new rainy day kit that will allow students to identify and quantify different wastes (including those other than plastic) found on your beach by walking and diving along transects, and sifting through sand. The goal is to collect as much debris as possible, while sorting and counting it according to size and type. This kit provides an excellent thinking point for how our use of plastic, and other disposable materials, can affect a larger environment and  cleans your local beach at the same time!

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Debris removed from Hull Cove in Jamestown, RI

5GYRES is committed to stopping the accumulation of plastic pollution in the five subtropical ocean gyres through research and communication.

2 years of Rainy Day Kits!

A scaled up version of All the Glitters at the Newport America's Cup Wold Series. Kids & adults learned to "see like a fish" in the deep ocean.

A scaled up version of All the Glitters at the Newport America’s Cup Wold Series. Kids & adults learned to “see like a fish” in the deep ocean.

This January marks the second year of our Rainy Day Kits program! Since the programs inception 45,000 children have explored the ocean ecosystem with these hands on, interactive lesson plans. We have found that 55% of downloads come from sailing programs, and 45% from museums, camps, and schools. Showing the lesson plans diversity!

Rainy Day kits are informal, fun lesson plans that allow children to learn about marine ecology and ocean conservation without expensive laboratory materials. Lesson supplies can generally be found in an office, or purchased with a quick trip to staples. If you are very resourceful, you can collect some supplies right out of the recycling bin!

We have rounded up a few our favorite things involving Rainy Day Kits:

Our favorite lesson name: The Deadliest Catch
Our favorite lesson to teach: Dirty Water Challenge – get nice and muddy teaching kids about the water cycle!

Best quotes: From John O’Flaherty, Providence Community Boating: “The best way to protect the environment is to create little environmentalist. Rainy Day Kits from Sailors for the Sea drive  home today’s biggest ecological concepts to our smallest stakeholders. Out youths sailors will be seeing these kits in our lesson plans – rain or shine.”

Best picture:

Youth playing with Rainy Day Kits

Sailors at Ida Lewis Yacht Club learn about the water cycle with Dirty Water Challenge.

A big thanks to our contributors: Pew Environment Group, Scipps Institute of Oceanography, University of Miami’s R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, The Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the New England Aquarium, the Harte Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.
To download vist: http://sailorsforthesea.org/programs-and-projects/rainy-day-kits.aspx

New Rainy Day Kits

Sailors for the Sea staff teaching marine science with Rainy Day Kits lesson plan the Dirty Water Challenge.

We are excited to announce two new marine science lesson plans have been published, expanding the Rainy Day Kits for Environmental Education library.

These lesson plans have been contributed by Birch Aquarium/The Scripps Institute of Oceanography and encourage young sailors to develop a passion for protecting and preserving the ocean and local waters.

The Rainy Day Kits lesson plan library now totals eight complete plans:

  • A Story of Sand, (new) contributed by Birch Aquarium/The Scripps Institute of Oceanography – students learn about beaches and the different geologic and physical processes that form sand.
  • Beach Bucket Scavenger Hunt, (new) contributed by Birch Aquarium/The Scripps Institute of Oceanography – a fun hands-on activity that introduces students to beach ecology and the role manmade objects can play in the ecosystem.
  • Bio-Magnification Game, contributed by the Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean – tag-inspired game that demonstrates the concept of bio-magnification as it relates to plastics and how chemicals and plastics can make it onto our dinner plates.
  • Clam Jigsaw, contributed by Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies – students create a cutout model of a clam to investigate the anatomy and physiology of these animals.
  • Density Currents, contributed by the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science – demonstrates the Thermohaline Circulation throughout the world’s oceans and the relative density between cold and warm ocean water.
  • Dirty Water Challenge, contributed by the New England Aquarium – teaches students about their environment in an engaging and practical way. Inquiry and discussion is embedded within the practical-students have to design, plan and then build their own design of water filter. Students are exposed to important concepts from a variety of scientific disciplines, including how the water cycle works, and the principles behind water filtering.
  • Oyster Tag, contributed by Sailors for the Sea – tag-inspired game that demonstrates the effects of pollution on oyster reefs, as well as the effect of oyster reefs on pollution.
  • Who Dirtied the Water?, contributed by the New England Aquarium – interactive story asks students to take on the roles of different historical and modern characters who have had a role in the pollution of a body of water. As the story is read, each character in turn adds a film container full of pollutants to a jar of clean water representing the body of water.

The Sailors for the Sea Rainy Day Kits for Environmental Education are still in development. By summer 2012, this online resource will grow to at least 15 lessons as new plans are added monthly. Download them now at: http://sailorsforthesea.org/Programs-and-Projects/Rainy-Day-Kits.aspx