Empowering students to help save oceans

January 22, 2019 | EarthEcho International/Northrop Grumman Foundation

EarthEcho International launched new teaching tools dubbed EarthEcho Expedition: PlasticSeas to get kids excited about science and propel them into action to prevent the plastics pollution plaguing our oceans. The videos, lesson plans, and design challenges are available free of charge to any teacher worldwide and are the culmination of a recent expedition in Australia, sponsored by the Northrop Grumman Foundation. All classroom materials were developed collaboratively and vetted by the 28 participating Australian and American educators who currently serve as EarthEcho Expedition Fellows.

The EarthEcho Expedition: PlasticSeas suite of classroom resources are available beginning January 15, 2019 and will kick off with a virtual field trip. Philippe Cousteau, Jr, EarthEcho International Founder and grandson of the legendary explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau, made the announcement.

“We’ve all seen horrifying pictures of animals stuck in discarded plastic six-pack rings around their necks in the ocean. In Australia, we swam alongside fur seals, cleaned up a beach, discovered a new species of dolphin, learned about ‘urban’ penguins and most disturbingly, found plastics while dissecting dried bird vomit,” said Cousteau. “We need to find better solutions to combat the devastating impact plastic pollution is having on one of our most important resources; the ocean. This is about inspiring children to lead change by giving them tools and guidance along the way – because we can’t have lasting change without them.”

Made possible by the Northrop Grumman Foundation, EarthEcho’s latest series of teaching tools includes everything teachers need to convey the enormity of the plastics pollution situation, what actions are currently in play, and what students can do to help.

“Northrop Grumman is thrilled to support EarthEcho International in their release of expedition related educational materials again this year,” said Sandra Evers-Manly, president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation and Northrop Grumman vice president of global corporate responsibility. “We look forward to classrooms around the world using these materials to spark student enthusiasm of STEM concepts and the environment.”

The Expedition Fellows transformed what they learned into engaging and accessible STEM lesson plans for students. The resources include bright spots of how some community-based organizations have tackled the problem and how-to guides based on principles of behavior science that help people shift toward using alternatives to plastic, engineering new materials to replace plastic, and more.

The EarthEcho Expedition: PlasticSeas classroom materials include the following elements:
•Expedition Videos – Explore Australia’s breathtaking and fragile coastlines with Philippe Cousteau and leading scientists and experts as they travel to the frontlines of the ocean plastics problem. From the life cycle of plastic products to their impact on marine life and coastal communities, this video series brings the issue of plastic pollution to life for classrooms everywhere.
•Youth in Action Videos – Young environmental leaders share their inspiring stories of how they are tackling the issue of ocean plastics and making a positive impact.
•STEM Career Close-ups Videos – Students hear from an engaging and diverse group of leading scientists and researchers who are helping to turn the tide on ocean plastics pollution.
•Classroom Lesson Plans and Design Challenges – Utilizing design challenges and science-based approaches, EarthEcho Expedition: PlasticSeas lesson plans aim to inspire and equip students to find solutions to a range of real-world challenges from developing alternatives to single-use plastics to engineering solutions to waste in our schools.
•Virtual Field Trip – Eat Less Plastic hosted by Magen Schifiliti, Conservation and Education Director at Trilogy Excursions, provides background information and context about the global plastic problem and why single-use plastics are harmful to the environment.

EARTHECHO INTERNATIONAL: EarthEcho International believes that youth have the power to change our planet. Established by siblings Philippe and Alexandra Cousteau in honor of their father, Philippe Cousteau Sr. and grandfather, legendary explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, EarthEcho inspires young people worldwide to act now for a sustainable future. EarthEcho’s programs are developed for and by youth and the educators and community leaders that support them. Our resources are designed to equip new generations of leaders and problem solvers to identify and tackle environmental challenges in their own communities and beyond.

Northrop Grumman and the Northrop Grumman Foundation are dedicated to expanding and enhancing sustainable science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education opportunities for students globally. In 2018, the organizations contributed nearly $20 million to diverse, STEM-focused organizations and programs. Our partnerships focus on engineering and technology-based initiatives that excite, engage and educate students and provide professional development opportunities for their teachers, with an emphasis on middle school and university level programs. Defending cyber networks, engineering autonomous vehicles and exploring space are some of the capabilities students develop as they experience the excitement of STEM through programs supported by Northrop Grumman and the Northrop Grumman Foundation. Initiatives such as the Northrop Grumman Foundation Teachers Academy provide professional development opportunities for STEM teachers, who inspire students to pursue STEM careers.

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