SOAR has a serious side in its missions to help kids find ways of helping the ocean and watersheds throughout the world. I started on having seen hundreds of albatrosses killed by plastic debris at Pihemanu (Midway Atoll). I was inspired by the questions of young people in Ohio and by USFWS biologists working hard to protect endangered species and damaged habitats.

SOAR has a very fun and tough to define side.....thanks to FRED AND FRIENDS, Project SOAR helps with watershed and ocean workshops throughout the world, and generally makes people smile while they learn some tough stuff about how we treat our rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and the one ocean on planet earth..........


SOAR introduces young people to ways they can make a difference in their local community and the wider world.

Take advantage by:

1) Invite a SOAR learning kit or bring Ron Hirschi to your school as a guest author or speaker for your organization. Ron has many years experience as an author and as a biologist. SOAR adds another dimension to his list of hands on projects he shares in writing, art, and ecology workshops.

Many schools invite Ron for his work as author of more than 50 nonfiction books, including many with ocean themes. Others bring him to school as a scientist or artist, but the best fit is always when schools use Ron to help them integrate curriculum.

Tom Bates, Principal at Tremont Elementary in Ohio recently said in an interview following Ron's visit, "What stood out to me was how Ron was able to gear his activities and discussion and information so it was meaningful to the students, whether they were in kindergarten or fifth grade."

Be in touch at whalemail@waypoint.com for visit information.

2) SOAR now has a new kit circling the globe along with a Laysan Albatross "Friend of Fred". This duo is packaged with a box full of ideas, activities, information about Papahanaumokuakea, ocean debris, and other materials aimed at sparking new projects related to the sea. Also included is a journal chronicling Fred's adventures, all of which began when kids at Columbus School for Girls (CSG) learned how they could take action to help the ocean.

Currently, this treasured package is in the hands of The Bush School in Seattle.

NOTE: You might also be lucky to receive one of the earlier packages with a FRED and Friend, already traveling. To date, Fred has visited Australia, Switzerland, Israel, England, The Dominican Republic, and many corners of the United States.

14 June 2012

Eighth Grade Students at The Bush School Take Actions to Reduce Plastic Pollution

There are many ways everyone can help clean up the environment and reduce our consumption of plastics. Although we cannot become independent from plastics entirely, everybody should take small steps every day to help reduce plastic consumption. After Ron Hirschi’s visit to The Bush School and the Eighth Grade Science class, our class decided to take his challenge to find and use alternatives to plastic. We also conducted a beach clean up at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle, Washington to remove plastic and other trash from the beach.

Students found plastic alternatives for many products such as plastic bottles and plastic bags. Here are some of the products that the eighth graders at Bush found alternatives for.

Plastic bottles: Some students had decided to reduce the amount of plastic bottles that they use in their everyday lives. Students found some alternatives for plastic bottles such as using reusable water bottles. Students used the reusable water bottles for everyday use as their alternative. Other students used chemical free plastic water bottles so when they need to be thrown out they can be put into the recycle.

Plastic utensils: One student and his family put the time and effort into washing plastic utensils so that they would be reusable. Another student purchased inexpensive, reusable metal utensils to cut down on their family’s consumption of plastic.

Plastic Ziploc bags: When students brought lunches to school in zip lock bags they found after they had finished they would throw away the plastic bag and go on with their day. To eliminate the Ziploc bags, some students packed their lunch in Tupperware or reusable plastic containers and then reused the container. Also, on one of the Experiential Week camping trips, students reused their Ziploc bag for their lunch the entire week. These two efforts saved many plastic bags and helped our efforts to reduce plastic use.

Plastic shopping bags: Every year, Americans use approximately 1 billon shopping bags; that creates 300,000 tons of landfill waste (cleanair.org). Students in our class wanted to reduce the amount of plastic bags that they use on an everyday basis. Students found alternatives for plastic bags such as reusable fabric bags. They used the reusable fabric bags as grocery shopping bags to haul items in.

Toothbrushes: Most students at The Bush School use disposable toothbrushes for dental hygiene. These toothbrushes consist of plastic material which cannot be recycled. To reduce this consumption of plastic, some students decided to buy a reusable toothbrush handle that fits with disposable brush heads. Others decided to use an electric toothbrush where you still replace the toothbrush head, but it lasts longer than most of the inexpensive plastic toothbrush heads.

Pens: At The Bush School, students are consistently using cheap throw away pens which are not recyclable. These pens contain plastic material and ink which causes it to have to be put in the garbage. Students also lose these pens frequently and some pens may be dropped outside and become litter. Street litter often washed into storm drains and ends up in Puget Sound. To stop this students have decided to keep track of these plastic pens, and they have decided to find refillable fountain pens that can be reused and are also recycled.

Plastic BBs: Another unique way that a student was able to reduce his plastic consumption was by reducing his plastic use with a very specific item. This item would be known as an “airsoft gun”, which is a plastic toy gun that shoots plastic pellets. This student decided that his way of reducing his plastic consumption would be to start using biodegradable pellets which would take about 2 months to degrade versus the 9 months-1 year time that it would take for a non-biodegradable plastic pellet.

These are just some of the very simple and easy ways to reduce your plastic consumption. We hope that you consider using our ideas. If we can take simple and easy steps like these in our everyday lives, together we can reduce the amount of plastic that we consume. There are many more creative ways to use recyclable or compostable and re-usable items for everyday purposes. If we all try these simple steps to becoming more environmentally friendly we will have much less plastic winding up in bodies of water and on beaches. This is important because plastic pollutes these bodies of water and can kill important and endangered wildlife.

Written by Adam, Chris, Jack, Max, Leeds, and Jackson with additional input from Maya, Aubra, Yamina, and Abby in the Eighth Grade Science Class of The Bush School.

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X310 Plastic Ocean Activity

It's me, Fred, the Monkey.

If you look closely, you can see I wear X310's leg band around my neck. It's to remind me of her. She was a Laysan Albatross. She was born in March 2008 and lived on Pihemanu, one of the most remote atolls on earth, now part of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

You can wonder about Pihemanu and about X310. She didn't live very long, dying in June 2008. Her parents flew thousands and thousands of miles finding food for her. But x310, like lots of baby albatrosses died before she got to soar the seas. Some albatrosses fly three million miles during their life. Like X310's parents, their sea is a new challenge in food finding because of our actions on land.

Adult albatrosses fly more than a thousand miles just to get a single meal for their babies. But the ocean is full of plastic. And if you read my buddy, Ron's blog and website, you learn about plastic in the sea. It is everywhere and babies like X310 die because they eat so much plastic, they can not get it out of their stomachs.

Where's all this plastic come from?
Where does it go?

Here is a simple activity:

Get up from your chair and walk around the classroom or wherever you are sitting.

Write down each thing around you that is made of plastic.

Everybody compare lists and make a total of the plastic products.

Now, the hard part of this activity:

Can you find alternatives for the things you use, alternatives not made of plastic?
Maybe start with drinking water from a fountain or glass or reuseable container?
Maybe start a really good recycling project?
Maybe make some art from recycled plastic?
Learn more on links here on this site and others.
Talk about times with no plastic.
X310 would have appreciated if people, just a few years ago had decided to make a plastic-free world for you....
You and X310.

Learn how you can SOAR with FRED by arranging a visit with Fred and his ocean teaching kit by emailing his banana provider at whalemail@waypoint.com


What you need:

Pint size plastic beverage container with wide mouth (about 1.5 inches) ---This approximates the size of a baby albatross stomach and esophagus.

Important to have the lid too.

Enough plastic items (bottle caps, toothbrush, legos, fishing line, small chunks of nylon rope, markers, pens, more bottle caps and even a few more bottle caps since they are pretty much the most common marine debris.

Talk with your audience of kids of any age about ocean debris and the way adult albatrosses fly out a few hundred or even a thousand miles to find flying fish eggs and squid for the little ones. They return to Pihe Manu or up on the Northeast shore of Kauai, find their young one among thousands of others and begin to feed by regurgitating "food".......

As you talk about this, have the kids place one or two pieces of the plastic into the bottle.

Replace cap with each addition of plastic. Shake gently to mimic bird moving around the nesting area a bit.

Remove cap. Shake gently to mimic the bird trying to dislodge "food" that can not be digested. In a perfect ocean, this would be squid beaks, fish bones, or other natural pieces of food.

Add more plastic, repeating above until no plastic falls out of the bottle when cap is removed (bill is opened) and the bird tries and tries, but can not toss up the mass of debris. See how much and how many different kinds of plastic can be added. Does the rope tangle with the legos and bottle caps. Do five bottle caps cause a blockage in the esophagus???

In nature, the upchucked mass is like an owl pellet and is known as a bolus. Natural foods slip freely through the esophagus and more feeding can continue. Most times, a baby albatross will toss up one bolus before leaving the nesting island. Unfortunately, thousands die because plastic blocks the stomach completely.

Your feeding the baby albatross activity can lead to a lot of discussion of plastics we use, discard, then find their way into the ocean and into the mouth of a baby albatross.

If you want to have a Baby Albatross Feeding Kit, complete with some plastic items that actually came from once living albatross at Pihe Manu, Papahanaumokuakea, be in touch.