Invention to Clean Oceans

Marine or ocean pollution is pollution in the sea and it is a form of water pollution. Approximately 80% of ocean pollution starts from land! Philadelphia has the oldest sewage system in the world, which is remarkable, but sometimes when it rains, there's too much rainwater to fit in the sewage system! That excess water streams directly into local streams and rivers. Fertilizer from lawns and farms, motor oil, sewage, plastic, and trash get swept up by that excess rainwater and eventually flow into the ocean. 8.8 million tons of plastic winds up in the ocean every year—that’s as if you stacked up five plastic grocery bags full of trash on top of each other on every foot of coastline in the world. There’s so much junk at sea, the debris has formed giant garbage patches. There are five of them around the world, and the largest — the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — includes an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of trash and covers an area twice the size of Texas. Over 700 species of marine animals have been reported to have eaten or been entangled in plastic. Scientists think that the amount of plastic in the ocean might triple by 2050—and that would mean seriously bad news for the ocean and the creatures that live there.

consider this

key terms

microplastics: (noun) fragments of any type of plastic less than 5mm in length

water cycle: (noun) movement of water between atmosphere, land, and ocean

pollution: (noun) introduction of harmful materials into the environment

brine: (noun) salty water


design a solution

generate an idea

For this challenge, you will build a prototype. What invention would help clean up the oceans? How would it work? What would it be made out of? Checkout’s lesson resources for this activity.

design and build a prototype

Build your invention! In most cases you will have to create a prototype – a smaller version of your invention that helps you test, share, explain your invention. Remember – It’s ok if it is not a working prototype.

share your idea

Film a short (Max 2 min video) pitch of your invention. Include details like who is it for, what problem does it solve, etc. Have fun! Upload/share your video to twitter, facebook or Instagram. Don't forget to tag us!

example solutions

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