The Great Pacific
Garbage Patch


The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. Marine debris is litter that ends up in oceans, seas, and other large bodies of water. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also known as the Pacific trash vortex, spans waters from the West Coast of North America to Japan.

STEM Concept

Problem Solving

Activity Time

15 minutes

Subject & Grades

All subjects | 6th-12th

Connections between STEM Concepts,
Learning Targets and Standards

Learning Objective

  • Students will identify and apply problem-solving techniques to solve problems.
  • Students will understand how these skills relate to their confidence and success.

Success Criteria

  • Students will be able to explain the steps involved in problem-solving.
  • Students can apply problem-solving techniques to arrive at a solution.
  • Students can identify and use the appropriate problem-solving technique.
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Eduply Pathways
COGNIA Standards
State Standards
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Pathway 6: Students collaborate to explore genuine inquiries throughout their studies.
Pathways 7: Students learn STEM independently with the guidance of skilled educators who facilitate learning effectively.
Pathway 11: Presentations serve as evidence that STEM culture is being implemented.
Pathway 14: STEM students use research to support claims, collect evidence, analyze data, and use evidence-based arguments to ensure daily integration of STEM concepts

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Standard 6: Learners engage collaboratively in authentic inquiry during ongoing units of study.

Standard 7: Learners engage in self-directed STEM learning guided by professional staff effective staff facilitators of learning.

Standard 10: Learners demonstrate STEM literacy outcomes that prepare them for the next level of learning and work.

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This activity meets your State Standards

Activity Introduction

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Garbage goes to landfills, correct? No, not all garbage ends up in landfills. Our oceans are “littered” with trash, which impacts the ocean's ecosystem and the quality of seafood we consume.

As you watch the video, think about ways to solve this problem. As of today - there isn’t any effective way to prevent the patches from getting bigger or an effective way to clean them up. 
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Click to enlarge

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Prompts for group activities

  • Why is The Great Pacific Garbage Patch such a problem?
  • What are the long-term impacts of environmental damage like this?
  • How could you increase awareness about the problem, and what sort of solutions do you believe would be helpful in cleaning up and eradicating garbage patches?
  • Do you believe that all governments worldwide consider environmental issues a priority?
  • Who do you think should be responsible for preventing and cleaning up the garbage patch?
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Step 1: Watch the video

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Activity Tip 1:
Remind the students to write down words they don’t understand or questions that immediately come to mind about the topic they’re watching

Activity Tip 2:

Tell them to be ready to share with their group.

Write your awesome label here.

Step 2:
Group Session

Step 3: