VIMS partners with JASON Learning for Beyond the Plastic Bottle Challenge

by the staff

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September 21, 2021

William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science partnered with JASON Learning for the Beyond the Plastic Bottle Challenge, an educational activity in which teams of students create a sustainable plan that reduces debris associated with a source of microplastic pollution. in their community.

The challenge is inspired by research conducted at VIMS and highlights the work of the Challenge STEM role model, Meredith Evans Seeley, a PhD candidate and Freeman Family Fellow at William & Mary’s School of Marine Science. STEM – short for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – is a program based on an applied approach to educating students in these four disciplines.

JASON is an independent 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization founded in 1989 by the discoverer of the Titanic Robert D. Ballard. It offers STEM programs and learning experiences for K-12 students and high-quality professional development for teachers. JASON has been used successfully in a wide variety of formal and informal educational environments.

“Most people are aware of the damage plastic does to the environment,” says Seeley. “These same people are probably aware of the dangers that water bottles and plastic straws pose to nature. But something that many people don’t think about is microplastics: tiny pieces of plastic that break down or break off from larger pieces, which then pollute filtration systems and end up in our food when fish and other animals accidentally eat them.

The white spots in the gut of this larval brine shrimp are microplastic particles from the decomposition of polyurethane foam.  (Photo by Hamish Small / VIMS)The challenge will engage Grades 6 to 12 students in their communities through creative, science-based problem solving. This is directly related to the principles of JASON Learning and to formal and informal methods educational material developed by marine educators at VIMS.

“Jason is honored to be associated with VIMS,” said President Eleanor Smalley. “We look forward to seeing the real-world solutions that students develop, lending to the mission of reducing microplastics. talented role model, spearheading the competition and offering her knowledge on the subject. “

A variety of plastic items salvaged from the shore at Gloucester Point during an annual coastal cleanup hosted by the VIMS Green Team.  (Photo by M. Seeley / VIMS)The challenge will be an ongoing campaign, encouraging student participation at the local level throughout the state of Virginia. Both organizations see the benefit of local solutions to problems that exist on a global scale. While there is no grand prize, JASON and VIMS will showcase participants with effective and creative ideas throughout the campaign. Students and teachers can share their progress using the hashtag #VIMSPlasticChallenge.

Information on how to participate is available in line.

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