Project-Based Science

Grades 5–6
American Elementary School
Bakersfield, CA

Major Objectives

  • Reduce plastic pollution by decreasing the number of spork packets used during lunch by providing separate napkins for students
  • Communicate the issue to other students using evidence from pre- and post-data


At American Elementary School during lunch, spork packets are provided in a package with napkin, straw and spork. Student council members noticed the students often didn't use everything in the packet. So the goal was to reduce plastic pollution and reduce the number of spork packets used during lunch by providing separate napkins for students. The team presented the problem to all intermediate students and discussed plastic pollution. The team researched plastic pollution and its global effects and then presented their findings to all intermediate students. They collected data for one week to determine the number of spork packets that were wasted at lunch and then provided a solution by having separate napkins as an option. Lastly, they collected data determining how many spork packets were reduced through awareness and providing napkins. Through these efforts, spork packet use was reduced by 50.6 percent!

  • Project Length:
    2.5 months
  • Outreach:
    100 students
  • Community Partners:
    Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), Student Council
  • Related Aquarium Teacher Program:
    Ocean Plastic Pollution Summit

Notes from the Field

"When our science club has fundraising activities for our field trips, they speak to the students on the dangers of plastic and styrofoam. They also show them alternatives—biodegradable ware—to plastic forks and spoons."