Jennifer Stock from the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary visited Wood Middle School on Tuesday, October 29 to help the school kick off another year as a NOAA Ocean Guardian School.
Stock worked with 6th grade students in Jeannette Frechou's Service-Learning Waste Reduction Project class to share a portion of the Winged Ambassadors program which helps illustrate the impacts of plastic on marine life.
Students learned that Albatross chicks are hatched far out on islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but that their food is delivered by adult albatrosses that fly all the way to the coast of California to gather food. One of the primary feeding sites is the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary located just west of the Farallon Islands where the continental shelf provides a rich updraft of nutrients supporting a robust food web.
Frequently the adult albatrosses ingest plastic floating at sea then inadvertently feed it to the chicks. When the chicks fledge, they regurgitate any indigestible things they may have eaten as chicks.
Typically this includes squid beaks and fish bones, but increasingly scientists are finding plastic in these "bolus" samples.
Stock guided the students in an activity to investigate bolus photos to discover how much of an impact plastic is having on the diets of these sea birds. Students found that approximately 40% of the items in bolus samples were plastic pollution. The activity reinforced the efforts students are making to remove plastic litter from beaches nearby the school campus.
On October 29, Science Teacher Jeannette Frechou and two students from Wood Middle School presented a poster entitled "Change our Disposable Plastic Waterways" at the 11th Biennial State of the San Francisco Estuary Conference in Oakland, CA.
According to the conference website, "The State of the Estuary Conference showcases the latest information about the estuary's changing watersheds, impacts from major stressors, recovery programs for species and habitats, and emerging challenges."
"Over 50 presentations and panels during the two-day conference included noted scientists discussing nutrients, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and other pollutant levels in the San Francisco Bay region; as well as trends in population levels of birds such as the clapper rail and other endangered species. Resource managers discussed methods of addressing trash pollution that affect the waters of our rivers, creeks and Bay; described the progress and challenges of restoring important wetlands around the region; and considered why dolphins may be returning to the Bay in numbers not seen in decades."
"Together, our partners have restored tens of thousands of acres of invaluable wetlands around the Bay, reduced Bay contamination from copper and nickel, tackled legacy pollutants such as mercury and PCBs, and have made progress in treating stormwater runoff as a resource instead of a waste. But we know that with climate change and inevitable sea level rise threatening our shores, the health of the Estuary is ever more critical to the welfare and economic sustainability of Bay Area communities," said Judy Kelly, Director of the Estuary Partnership.
The poster from Wood Middle School highlighted the school's efforts to understand and mitigate the impacts of plastic pollution on the San Francisco Bay.
From the poster's abstract:
"Human litter, plastics and other marine debris are some of the greatest threats to marine life today.
Since 2009, Wood Middle School 6th grade SLWRP (Service-Learning Waste Reduction Project) classes have worked at study sites at Crown Memorial Beach to collect and analyze marine debris with a focus on nurdles.
Over 5,000 nurdles have been sent to Dr. Hideshige Takada for analysis through the International Pellet Watch Program. Students work 1 x 1 meter plots, collecting nurdles, polystyrene, cigarette filters, and other harmful debris that affects ocean food webs.
Wood School is a third year recipient of a NOAA Ocean Guardian Grant to facilitate this work. Our Mission Statement is: practice environmental awareness to use less, recycle more, and to protect the San Francisco Bay ecosystems from pollution.
Our service-learning work is a collaboration among StopWaste.org, ACOE SLWRP, and East Bay Regional Park District. In 2009-10, students worked with park staff through the process from design to installation of a colorful educational sign about plastic pollution at Shoreline Drive and Grand Street on Crown Beach.
Our nurdles data can be viewed at www.pelletwatch.org.
In May 2011, Wood SLWRP Program received a Congressional Award from Congressman Sam Farr for its outstanding work in environmental education supporting ocean health.
'When students lead by teaching others about ocean literacy, powerful learning, civic responsibility, and community pride abounds. Service-learning collaborations such as those above are rewarding for students and community while contributing to the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of the San Francisco Bay estuary and its ecosystems. Transportation costs are the most prohibitive barrier to student service work. Agencies should seek grants or awards to assist schools in accessing service opportunities within the estuarine system.'- Jeannette M Frechou, SLWRP Teacher"
NOAA Ocean Guardian School with a full week of Ocean themed learning. The week culminated with a Dia de Los Muertos Ocean art and science gallery exhibit on the 1st floor of the school.Wood Middle School kicked off another year as a
Students from Lindsey Shepard's art classes worked individually to study a sea animal that might be harmed by plastic pollution in the ocean. Then, using a quilled paper technique, students created colorful skulls from rolled paper. In the Dia de los Muertos tradition, the skulls were designed to honor the life of the animal harmed or killed by human carelessness.
Shepard's students also worked in groups to create sculptures transforming trash that typically harms wildlife into messages to help conserve it. In one example, students used discarded plastic bottles and bags to make a sea turtle. In another, students transformed a discarded umbrella, plastic bottle caps, and plastic bags into a jellyfish.
Students in Jeannette Frechou's Service-Learning Waste Reduction Project (SLWRP) elective class studied animals harmed by plastic pollution and drew skeletons of their chosen animals. The activity reinforced a study of anatomy and provided students an opportunity to practice research in scientific texts. Each drawing was accompanied by a summary of the animal's food web and an explanation of how it might confuse plastic for food.
SLWRP students also hosted a desktop beach model designed to give visitors a chance to experience the on-going research into plastic pollution conducted by Wood Middle School. 6th grade exhibit hosts showed visitors how to sift through beach sand to find small bits of plastic called "nurdles" that frequently find their way into the food chain. They explained how these bits of plastic are mistaken for fish eggs and how they contribute to the ingestion of persistent organic pollutants by unsuspecting sea creatures.
The gallery included a poster prepared for the 11th Biennial State of the San Francisco Estuary Conference by teacher Jeanette Frechou and students Mira Belle Arbreton and Angela Pham. The poster showed examples of what students have learned about the impacts of plastic on the marine environment and what they are doing about it.
The Ocean Guardian exhibit also highlighted an emerging partnership between Wood Middle School and East Bay Regional Parks to advance the Fish Friends program.
By placing their thumbprint on the Fish Friends poster, students promised to "do my part to make sure my trash stays off the land and out of the water, away from animals that might think it is food. If I see someone drop something I will pick it up for them. I will put trash where it belongs so we can all be healthy."
During the 6th period of the day, classrooms from across the campus, and visitors from the community toured the exhibit.
Alameda County Office of Education Arts Learning Coordinator, Ray Cagan noted, "I was impressed by how excited and proud the student presenters were about their work, and how interested the visitors were in learning about what their peers had done."
Lena Wolff, the Galleries Coordinator from The Alameda County Office of Education, remarked on the overall quality of the exhibit, "I was impressed by how well the excellent craftsmanship of the artwork matched the seriousness and high quality of the content in the exhibit. Students were very knowledgeable about the issues behind the artwork they created- and very proud of their work."
I am very sorry that you died by eating a plastic bag thinking it was a jellyfish. Even though people go to the beach every day to clean up the beach and to wave you guys, but you still lost your life. Also, lots of people recycle and do the right things but some careless human beings still do the wrong thing. The purpose of Day of the Dead is to honor the dead, so I made you a turtle skull. I hope people stop littering and recycle more. It's not fair that lots of animals die because of us and we don't even notice it. I hope that my artwork and my peer's artwork help recognize that we are killing precious animals and making the earth not green. So by writing this and making this artwork that you know that I really honor your life.
Dear Loggerhead Sea Turtle,
I'm so sorry about how you consumed that plastic bag thinking it was a jellyfish. I understand that bags can look very similar to the tasty snack of jellyfish. Now you're dead because that plastic bag got in your intestines and very slowly starved you to death. I'm sorry you faced that horrible tragedy, all because someone did not properly throw away their trash.
Ocean Guardian Schools such as Will C. Wood are helping to stop this from ever happening again. A lot of people have contributed to help stop plastic pollution, me being one of them.
REST IN PEACE
I am terribly sorry that those fishermen choked you with their nylon fishnets. Even though environmental groups are trying their best to clean up the plastic in the ocean and recall nylon fishnets, you still died as a result of greed and careless human actions. I am doing my best to honor you on Day of the Dead by drawing your skull into a calaveres skull. I rolled recycled pieces of paper in many designs and colors to show how beautiful you were. It was a bit difficult to capture every detail of your skull, but with a bit of trial and error, I managed to capture most of your physical features. I hope that in the future, people will recognize how important you are to our earth and how much of a problem it would be to lose you.
Dear Sea Turtle,
I am very sorry that you thought that plastic bag was a jellyfish. I know you choked on it and couldn't let you breathe. We are trying to clean the beach to save your friends and family. I am also sorry that the garbage or plastic bag interfered with your nesting activity. I wish I had known that our plastic pollution and garbage was affecting not only our life, but yours. I can't even imagine how you felt when you choked on that plastic bag. We have a lot of programs to help you specifically like to clean up the beach to prevent that from happening again. I hope you're in a better place now, where there is no plastic bags to kill you. I really hope my project will give everyone a message to stop using plastic and to clean up the beach. I will do everything I can just to try saving other sea turtles and other animals.
In response to the Alameda County Reusable Bag Ordinance, the Wood Middle School PTA sold sturdy reusable bags as a school fundraiser. The bags feature artwork from Lindsey Shepard's class. Students created images of animals that might be harmed by litter in the oceans for the school's Ocean Guardian week. Bags sell for $15.00.
Wood Middle School is hosting a wide range of events this month to celebrate the school's ongoing efforts to connect stewardship and scholarship. Thank you to teacher Jennifer VerDuin for compiling this extensive list!
- Ocean Haikus: Sixth grade SLWRP elective students are writing Ocean Guardian haikus in conjunction with a school-wide haiku writing project. Students are being invited to make a watercolor of their haiku on a 4x6 index card on Friday, 4-19 at lunch in Ms. Frechou's room—these will be put up as a mural on our first floor gallery wall on Earth Day. (Ms. Frechou will be presenting Wood's Ocean Guardian work at the second annual NOAA Ocean Guardian Conference on Saturday, April 20, 2013 in Monterey County.)
- Check out our work at pelletwatch.org: SLWRP students will also being conducting Pellet Watch research at Crown Beach on Earth Day.
- Electronics Recycling: Leadership is having an Electronics Recycling event on April 20.
- Canvas Bag Sales: PTA, Art, and Science classes are joining forces to create and sell WMS Ocean Guardian canvas bags. Each bag has a student-created design from a cross-curricular (Art, Science, and English) ocean animal project completed last fall. These were recently on display in the public gallery area of the StopWaste offices in Oakland. The bags will proudly honor our NOAA Ocean Guardian work to keep plastics out of San Francisco Bay and contribute to Wood's effort to support the Alameda County ordinance banning plastic bags in grocery stores. Art for the ocean animal project is currently on display at the Alameda County Office of Education through May.
- Transportation Action Project: Working with staff from Earth Team in Berkeley, sixth grade students in Mrs. VerDuin's Earth Science classes are conducting a Transportation Action Project during Earth Week. After collecting and analyzing data on how they all get to and from school (mode and distance), they have designed short-term group projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions generated by their daily trips by 10% as a group. They will follow this up with a plan/project to participate in National Bike to School Day on May 8, 2013.
- Brush Robots: Students in our Teen Techs after-school program are using recycled materials to create mechanized brush robots that move about using the power of small motors. The challenge is stabilization – so analyze, plan and execute then troubleshoot, implement solution, test and then repeat until problem is solved! The brushbots will be featured at this year's Wood Museum of History's Opening Reception on May 1 at the Alameda Free Library, 6-8 pm
- Saving the Earth a Bottle at a Time: Following more than a year of effort, our long-awaited hydration station has finally been installed. After just a few days, the station shows 218 bottles refilled, representing a savings of ~13 pounds of CO2! Official dedication of our new hydration station will take place on Earth Day.
- Recycling our Way through History: Students are hard at work on projects for the 12th annual Wood Museum of History which opens on April 30 at the Alameda Free Library. As in recent years, the exhibit will showcase student interpretations of milestones in history, science, and engineering, using materials otherwise designated for the landfill. Featured this year, will be robots and animations created by our new Teen Techs afterschool tutoring program, operating under a mini grant from Altamont Education Advisory Board. Project work will be wrapping up during Earth Week. We invite all to visit the exhibit, which will be on display through June 1st.