Reaching the Ocean: A guide for Inland Teachers

As humans, we are all connected to the ocean through what it provides for us. But your students may not realize that their backyards are connected physically to the ocean through our waterways and watersheds! As an inland teacher, you face a greater challenge in connecting your students to the ocean – but teaching them about your local watershed is a great way to start.

A watershed is the area were the local water sources connect to larger bodies of water, such as rivers and lakes. These rivers and lakes can eventually take the water from your community to the ocean. If you’re in the US you can locate your watershed here, or check out this website to find watersheds around the world.

Be sure to make as many local connections as possible – emphasize that this is your students’ home. Once you’ve helped your students understand why what they do at home is important to ocean health, there are many ways to re-enforce the connection. Read on for some tips and resources. Are you planning to celebrate World Oceans Day in June this year? Sign up and let us know!

Bringing the ocean home

Encourage wonder: Why not celebrate the ocean by learning about some of the most interesting creatures in it? For younger children especially, loving the ocean is an important first step to achieve before learning about how much it needs our help. You can teach younger students about bioluminescent fish with this activity from national geographic. You can also make a cute lanternfish craft!

The ocean in our everyday lives: Sustainable seafood is a topic that is important to all of us, wherever we are. National Geographic has a great idea for ages 3-5. They think students can create a fun sustainable fish game themselves. Here’s a guide!

Ocean health = our health: High Schoolers can learn about another important service the ocean gives us, providing medicine and other benefits. You only need access to computers and a place to share information for this activity.

A clean ocean starts on land

NOAA tells us that the majority of pollutants entering the ocean, come from land activities. Every year around 1.4billion pounds of trash ends up in the ocean. A major problem with this that marine debris – unnatural objects in marine areas – and can hurt the ocean and the animals that live there. Creatures like sea turtles can ingest these debris and perish.

Show the connection: Make it clear how trash gets from our backyard to the ocean with a watershed tracking activity. For this activity, you can trace the path of pollutants from your lawn to the sea. For older students you can use a more detailed worksheet.

Emphasize what’s at risk – and how we can help: You can create an activity to teach your students about marine debris. For younger students, give them rubber bands and let them see how hard it is to release themselves from materials that they get entangled in. You can then relate that to sea creatures, and plastic pollutants. You can also represent the movement of marine debris by creating a mini- water system.

Alyssa Isakower 20-Nov-2014