Cleaner coasts


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  • number
  • measurement
  • statistics


  • understanding
  • problem solving
  • reasoning

Marine debris has a significant negative impact on our environment. How much rubbish is on our coastline? Where does it come from? How does it get there? What are the impacts on wildlife? What can be done to stop the debris going from the land into the ocean?

Teacher notes

The teacher notes contain: an overview of each of the activities; curriculum links and suggested year levels; background information; prompting questions and key mathematical points; practical suggestions for running the activity; a list of resources needed; and further ideas.


Activity 1: A rubbish audit

Years 7 to 9

Students organise an audit of the places where rubbish collects around the school. They quantify the amount of rubbish and convey this information on a school map using a variety of representations, such as heat maps and dot maps, to display their data simply and effectively.

Students make recommendations for reducing the amount of rubbish by analysing the data.


Activity 2: When does it decay?

Years 7 to 9

Students audit the contents of a typical school bin, by categorising, then counting the different types of rubbish. They research how long it takes for different items to break down, and then create a ‘decay timeline’ for the types of rubbish that were found in the bin.

Students then assess what rubbish might be remaining in the schoolyard after different periods of time, and make some suggestions about rubbish disposal at school.


Activity 3: From shop to shore

Years 6 to 9

Students watch a PowerPoint highlighting the problems of rubbish in our waterways and oceans, especially its impact on living organisms (including people!). They explore ways to inform the community, suggesting changes in behaviour.Students analyse real data provided by Sydney Water to quantify the amount of rubbish collected.


Data set 1

Spreadsheet of data on the amount of rubbish removed in the Cooks River by litter booms every month.


Data set 2

Spreadsheet of data on the amount of rubbish collected by Gross Pollutant Traps.


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