Ecotoxicology and Data Analysis

Authors: Susanne M. Brander, Rachel E. Fontana, Tawny M. Mata, Sarah A. Gravem, Annaliese Hettinger, Jessica R. Bean, Amber I. Szoboszlai, Meghan Marrero, and Carol A. Keiper


The Marine Debris Ecotoxicology material encompasses interactive lessons that will encourage students to develop scientific inquiry skills through data collection and analysis while enhancing knowledge in the areas of ecology, chemistry, molecular biology, and oceanography. This material was produced in collaboration with Oikonos and as an extension of the marine debris lesson plans that can be found on the Oikonos website. The curriculum is published in full by the American Biology Teacher (Volume 73, Number 8, 2011, pages 474-478) and HERE. The materials below refer to materials cited in that curriculum, and also include additional learning tools listed as “optional.”

All materials are PDF files

Lesson 1: Introduction to Marine Debris and Plastic Toxicology

  • Introduction to Plastics and Marine Debris: Introduction to plastics and marine debris (19): This presentation discusses where debris comes from and its consequences for organisms, including seabirds. This presentation focuses mainly on the toxicology to plastics and plasticizers found in every day products, such as food wrappers.
  • Introduction to Plastics and Marine Debris with Notes: This presentation is identical to the one above but also includes extensive teacher notes.

Additional (optional) activities for Lesson 1

Lesson 2: Campus Plastic Debris Analysis

  • Campus Debris Survey Lesson Plan: Lesson to teach scientific data collection principles through terrestrial debris surveys that students can compare to coastal debris surveys. Developed by Oikonos.
  • Datasheet for Plastic Analysis: After student survey the campus for debris, this datasheet helps them sort the debris into types of plastic.
  • Plastic Debris Excel Lesson: Gives step-by-step instructions to produce graphs based on the campus debris survey data and plastic analysis.

Lesson 3: Putting Science into Action

  • Writing a Bill: This activity walks students through writing a congressional bill to address plastic pollution. Includes printouts of actual environmental bills as examples for classrooms with limited computer access.

Author Information

Susanne M. Brander, Rachel E. Fontana, Tawny M. Mata, Sarah A. Gravem, Annaliese Hettinger, Jessica R. Bean and Amber I. Szoboszlai are graduate students at Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California Davis, who participated in a National Science Foundation Graduate-K-12 Fellowship that supported the development and implementation of these materials. 

Carol A. Keiper is a Founding Board Member and researcher with Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge, a non-profit organization working locally and internationally to increase awareness and understanding of human impacts on marine ecosystems and improve biodiversity conservation on imperiled islands. Meghan Marrero is the Director of Curriculum at U.S. Satellite Laboratory, Inc., and President of the New York State Marine Education Association. 

Carol A. Keiper and Jenny Stock, education and outreach coordinator from Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, developed Teaching Activities that supplement “Waves, Wetlands, and Watersheds” curriculum developed by the California Coastal Commission. Additional activities available on the Oikonos website were developed by Keiper through funding from City of Benicia, California. Keiper and Marrero also assisted with the development of the CAMEOS marine debris ecotoxicology curriculum seen here on this website.

Note about Use

CAMEOS would like to hear from you! As an educator, if you use these lesson plans in your classroom, then please send an email to Susanne Brander. We would love to know where and in what classes these activities are being implemented! Thank you.


This material is produced in conjunction with the Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California Davis, NSF GK-12 CAMEOS program. The National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0841297 supported this work. Development of marine debris and watershed activities by Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge were supported initially by the California Coast Commission with support from Jennifer Stock of the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary followed by support from the City of Benicia Water Education Program. Additional contributions were made in partnership with ACES Signals of Spring, Hawaii Pacific University, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and Richardson Bay Audubon. Additionally, the authors thank CAMEOS principal investigators Susan Williams and Vic Chow; along with Michelle Chow, Ocean Discovery!, and the participating teachers and students.

Funding for CAMEOS is provided by the National Science Foundation's GK-12 Program