Marine Debris

DUML’s Community Science Program on Marine Debris
4th and 5th Grade Programs

DUML’s Community Science Program on Marine Debris is a year-long interdisciplinary program for 4th and 5th grade classrooms across North Carolina. It was developed by DUML researchers, local teachers, and community members, and it is funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. 

Cleaning our beaches and quantifying trash

DUML’s Marine Debris program provides knowledge on marine debris, art mosaic methods, solid waste and recycling, remote sensing via drones, and scientific sampling. Armed with this background knowledge, students then go out into the field to collect data on marine debris accumulation and conduct a beach cleanup on Rachel Carson Reserve. Students then use their data to understand local and global marine debris trends and make a difference in their community. This year-long program has math, art, literature, civics, science, and technology activities– all tied to local standards!

Creating informative art with garbage collected from a classroom trash audit


How can your 4th or 5th grade class in Carteret County be part of this program?

We hold a Marine Debris Workshop every summer to train educators in the curriculum material and organize field trips for the upcoming school year. If you are interested in getting your school/class involved, contact the DUML community science team, and we will get you signed up for the Marine Debris Workshop.

A Look at what Students Have Learned

Fourth grade students from Tiller Elementary School, Beaufort Elementary School, and St. Egbert’s Catholic School answer a variety of questions relating to what they’ve learned as part of the 2018 Duke CSI Marine Debris program. They mention if the program had an impact on them, if they are going to change any of their behaviors, and if they have told friends or family members about what they’ve learned.


What we have done at-a-glance:

  • Developed curriculum for the marine debris project (spring 2017) 
  • Designed and piloted the activities with two classrooms (spring 2017)
  • Revised the project/curriculum with feedback from the pilot activities and created the DUML Marine Debris Curriculum workbook (summer 2017)
  • Hosted teacher training workshop for Marine Debris Community Research (Summer 2017, 2018, and 2019)
  • Ran Marine Debris Community Research programs in 4th and 5th grade classrooms throughout Carteret County (fall 2017-ongoing)

Additional Resources

Classroom Resources

Background Resources