Contents of the Plastic Ocean Teaching Kit (Previously called the Debris Science Investigation Kit)

How-to Guide

What are Wayfinder Society Toolkits?

Our toolkits provide educators with out-of-the-box activities that help students explore environmental issues. Except for easily found materials, they include everything you need to deploy the activity in your classroom. Kits are free for public school educators. They are designed to help educators who want access to tangible teaching materials based on real-world samples, data, and issues. Some of our toolkits are designed together with our partners who are doing environmental, social, and policy research and advocacy on the ground.


Why we’ve created these resources:

When it comes to environmental education, educators are looking for help with:

  • Finding grade appropriate lessons that are also hands-on and relevant to students everyday lives,
  • Staying up to date with the science and statistics,
  • Finding vetted resources, and
  • Bringing the outside world into the classroom.


How to navigate a toolkit:

1. Overview. At the top of each toolkit webpage, you’ll find an overview of the toolkit including: appropriate grade levels – on an academic and emotional level, approximate time needed, and images of the toolkit and students using it. You’ll also find a link to request a kit. Fill out the Google Form and we’ll respond with an email confirmation or an invoice to cover the kit and shipping costs. Public school educators will have have the cost of the kit waived. If your school has specific procurement systems, please email us with your specific needs.

2. Toolkit Details. Below the overview, we’ve laid out the contents of the kit, suggested implementation options, any extra materials you’ll need to supply yourself, and links to editable downloads we’ve provided to go with the toolkit.

2. Purpose and Context. This is for your information to provide background information about the toolkit, why we think it is an important lesson, and how it fits into the bigger picture of environmental education. Where appropriate, we’ve also provided this information in an editable Google Doc to make it easier to share with your students.

3. Instructions. For each toolkit we’ve provided instructions for educators on how to prepare for the activity, and how to guide your students through the activities. Since every classroom’s needs are different, we’ve kept this section minimal to encourage educators to use the toolkit content in a way that fits their teaching style and student learning needs. We’ve designed the student worksheets, background information handouts, and supplementary materials in Google Docs so that educators can edit them to fit into their curriculum. The handouts can be shared with students by uploading them to an online Learning Management Systems (LMS) or they can be printed.

4. Tips and Suggestions. In this section, we’ve outlined some information to keep in mind, or to help you or your students through the toolkit. If after doing the lesson with your class, you have any tips or suggestions that we should add, please comment in the forum lower on the webpage! We want to keep improving our resources so that they work better for educators!

5. Associated Standards. Here we’ve listed the Next Generation Science Standards, and/or Advanced Placement Environmental Science standards that each toolkit is associated with. Some toolkits are more closely aligned to the standards than others, so we’ve won’t include this section if we haven’t deemed it appropriate.


Related Content

Each Wayfinder Society lesson and toolkit is part of a larger story. They can be built off one another or used together to help students dig deeper.  The lessons and toolkits can also be combined with community projects and video content in our Student Hub (launching August 2023) to turn learning into meaningful action.


Our ecosystem of services

We've designed Wayfinder Society to provide environmental educators with whole classroom support.

Ready-to-use lessons with editable handouts

Our lessons are created with experts in the field, founded on 30 years of experience educating about plastic pollution, and co-created with educators. They are based on real world issues, and are hands-on.

Hands-on activity toolkits with materials included

Our toolkits provide educators with out-of-the-box activities that help students explore environmental issues. They include all but the most easily found materials.

Student Hub with Community Action Projects

Help students turn knowledge to action with over 25 project ideas. Students can submit their projects for hourly credits to use on college applications, resumes, and community service requirements.

Community connection and emotional support

In addition to our teaching resources, we're connecting our community through events and articles that highlight and uplift our successes and provide space to share and discuss the challenges.

Funding through mini-grants for fieldtrips and materials

We know teaching effective environmental education often requires extra materials and funding. Get support through Wayfinder Society mini-grants.

How-to guides and insights provide advice

Our free guides and articles cover topics around how to address the challenges with teaching environmental education. They are created from our communities collective experience.

Help us improve our free resources.

By making our resources freely available, we've given up some of our ability to track how our resources are being used. Please help us measure our impact, which we'll use to inform our generous donors, by signing up for our newsletter and completing our end-of-the-school-year survey.

We'll also keep you up to date with new free events, lessons, toolkits, videos, plus community blogs and funding opportunities. 

Thank you!

Success! Thank you for joining our Wayfinder Society community.