> Oceanography > Issues > Archive > Volume 22, Number 4

2009, Oceanography 22(4):244–250, http://dx.doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2009.117

HANDS-ON OCEANOGRAPHY | Sorting Out Sediment Grain Size and Plastic Pollution

Authors | Purpose | Full Article | Citation


Heather L. Spalding | Botany Department and the NSF GK–12 Program, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, USA

Kanesa M. Duncan | Curriculum Research & Development Group, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, and University of Hawai'i Sea Grant Center for Marine Science Education, Honolulu, HI, USA

Zoe Norcross-Nu'u | University of Hawai'i Sea Grant Extension for Maui County, HI, USA



This activity familiarizes students with beach erosion, beach health, and the pervasive nature of plastic pollution. Students use measurements of sediment grain size and the buoyancy and density of materials found in beach sand to describe sediment size fraction, determine sand suitability for beach replenishment, and document the relative quantity of plastics. This activity also teaches field sampling (random sampling using transects and quadrats) and mathematical skills (graphing, percentages, and extrapolation).


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Spalding, H.L., K.M. Duncan, and Z. Norcross-Nu'u. 2009. Hands-on oceanography: Sorting out sediment grain size and plastic pollution. Oceanography 22(4):244–250, http://dx.doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2009.117.