Teacher’s Questions for Swirling Seas of Plastic Trash


Before reading:

  1. When you throw away garbage, where does it go? Name a few places other than the dump where you’ve seen lots of trash.
  2. Have you ever seen photos of marine animals tangled in trash? How do you think trash ends up in the ocean?

During reading:

  1. List a few things a person could find at Kamilo Beach. List a few things a person could not find at Kamilo Beach.
  2. How many tons of trash do volunteers remove from the Kamilo Beach area each year?
  3. The North Pacific Ocean gyre is far from land. So how does so much plastic trash end up in the gyre?
  4. How many gyres have been reported to contain trash?
  5. Describe how scientists collect and study samples from gyres.
  6. Describe the different ways that sea life interacts with the floating plastic. (Hint: How do barnacles use floating plastic? Do some animals eat the plastic?) Are these interactions good or bad?
  7. Once trash makes its way into the gyre, does it tend to stay there? Name two reasons why.
  8. Why are the smaller pieces of plastic floating at sea so dangerous?
  9. How are scientists helping sea life that becomes tangled up in floating plastic?

After reading:

  1. Does garbage ever really go away? Or does it go mostly out of sight? Do you think if people’s trash piled up in their backyards instead of in remote landfills, they would use more or less trash?
  2. Describe what’s in the trash at your home and how it’s being dumped might affect the environment.



1. Do you think depositing trash in landfills is a good solution to the growing problem of garbage? Suggest a few ways to reduce the amount of trash you generate?