We've all heard some version of the story of a message in a bottle that fell into the ocean off the shores of Timbuktu and journeyed a tremendous distance...only to be discovered on the island of Somewhere Else. Although these stories are the stuff of fairytales, in real life, the journey of trash in our oceans is more of a horror story.
In her book, Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion, author Loree Griffin Burns details the research of oceanographer Curt Ebbesmeyer who studies ocean currents by tracking cargo ship container spills with the help of beachcombers. Scientists use their valuable data to help protect and preserve fragile marine habitats and the creatures that live there. Griffin's book is insightful, fun to read, and inspiring especially for young readers interested in science. If I was still teaching, I would use her book as a springboard for discussing many topics including map skills, ocean currents, marine habitats, the effects of pollution, and how students can help save the environment.
I recently had the pleasure of attending one of Griffin's school visits and was very impressed by how she managed to present her information to children of all ages. The children were interested, attentive, and her talk generated many interesting questions. The children (and I), were left truly inspired! What's the buzz on Griffin's latest project?...Bees!
Enjoy your journeys to the beach this summer...just remember to take your trash with you when you leave!