A Scientific Cleanup

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This is a comprehensive lesson plan on page 85 for a group cleanup trip to a local beach, lake or stream. Learners keep track of the types and amounts of trash picked up and analyze this information. As a group, learners discuss the marine debris problem in their community and consider ways to prevent pollution. This lesson helps learners understand the effects of natural events and human influences on ecosystems. It also teaches learners several science process skills, including forming questions and answering questions by experimenting, carrying out research to validate or challenge ideas, and designing experimental tests.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 7 days

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 14 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Field Trip, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Human Impact
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Risks and Benefits
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Sheavly, Seba ; Reigster, Katie


  • Public domain, ,

Funding Source:

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, AB133F06CN0193