Project-Based Science

Grade 1
Watsonville Charter School of the Arts
Watsonville, CA

Major Objectives

  • Reduce the amount of straw/straw wrapper litter on campus by 50 percent
  • Develop awareness about the issue and provide alternatives by supplying refillable juice bottles


Students at Watsonville Charter School for the Arts (WCSA) conducted a litter survey. They found 205 straw wrappers in the outdoor eating area during the month of October, representing 53 percent of the total litter collected. This inspired the class to learn more about plastic in the watershed. Students engaged in a buoyancy experiment, learned about the five gyres, and created an ocean plastic pollution brochure. Students presented what they learned to the school through a skit and a song and had a booth at Earth Day. They sold glass juice bottles that required no plastic straw. In February, they sold 32 juice bottles. During the month of March, 60 straw wrappers were collected—a decline of 70 percent, far exceeding the goal of a 50-percent decline in straw wrapper litter at WCSA. In addition, total litter has declined in the outdoor eating area by 51 percent. WCSA is continuing to monitor litter on campus.

Notes from the Field

"The magic of seeing a class of happy, focused kids engaged in schoolyard science doesn't happen the first time you attempt it. As they socialize, forget how to use a thermometer and leave their science notebooks back in the classroom, you must stifle the desire to run! It will be better the next time and will make you smile the third time out. We're asking the kids to demonstrate skills that they don't have, so keep trying. They will be scientists yet!"