Questions for ‘Enormous floating barrier will corral ocean trash’


This computer rendering shows what the 600-meter-long (2,000-foot) Ocean Cleanup system will look like floating in the North Pacific. Currents will push on the boom to form a u-shape. The system is designed to trap bits of plastic that boats can collect later.

The Ocean Cleanup

To accompany feature “Enormous floating barrier will corral ocean trash” 


Before Reading

1.  Name 10 things in your home made from plastic. When you discard such products, where do they end up?

2.  Plenty of plastic debris pollutes the oceans. Where do you think it comes from? By what path do you think it got there? And how big do you think the average piece of floating ocean plastic is?

During Reading

1.  Where is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? What’s in it and how big is it?

2.  Describe the Ocean Cleanup system. What size trash is it designed to pick up?

3.  How many individual pieces of plastic are in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, based on the latest estimate?

4.  Describe the shape of the Ocean Cleanup system and how it is supposed to work.

5.  How have the system’s designers “marked” the system so that boats don’t run over it?

6.  What is System 001, and where was it initially tested?

7.  How much plastic debris do designers of the Ocean Cleanup system expect can be removed from the sea by 2023? By 2040?

8.  Give three reasons why some critics are suspicious that the system will be a great benefit to the environment.

9.  What are Mr. Trash Wheel and Professor Trash Wheel, and where are they located?

10.  What does Adam Lindquist suspect is the biggest benefit to programs like Ocean Cleanup and the Healthy Harbor Initiative?

After Reading

1.  Explain why the scientists quoted in the story have different assessments about which plastics dominate in the ocean — those 0.5 centimeters and less, or those at least 5 centimeters across. Which class of these seems most important to you? Explain your answer.

2.  Do some internet research on the risks to wildlife posed by ocean plastics. How do those risks, and the animals affected, differ by the size of the plastic? Give four examples. Based on your research, which size of plastic do you conclude poses the biggest risks? Explain your answer.

3.  Imagine that the United Nations Environment Program named you to head a project to reduce the amount of plastic waste — including microplastics — that enters the ocean each year. Brainstorm with two classmates and come up with five different tactics. Rank them by cost of implementing them. Rank them by how well you think they will be able to limit plastic from entering the ocean. Rank them also by the size of plastic wastes that they are most likely to prevent entering the sea.