Litter at Fremont Science-Base Teacher Project

Project-Based Science

Grades 4–6
Fremont Open Plan
Modesto, CA

Major Objectives

  • Collect, sort and graph different kinds of trash found on Fremont Open Plan school campus
  • Analyze and interpret trends based on items collected, types of trash and location of litter found on campus
  • Reduce the amount of single-use plastic and other point-source pollution that enters rivers and oceans via the Fremont Open Plan school campus


Students at Fremont Open Plan used Litterati to create a collaborative map of litter found on their school campus. Litterati uses Instagram (@litterati) to add a time and geotag to litter that has been photographed and shared on social media. Litterati allowed students to sort and visualize over 1,000 images of litter collected on the Fremont Open Plan school campus. This citizen science approach to project-based learning allowed students to analyze data and sort litter by location and frequency. After analyzing the data, students were able to infer that straw wrappers and juice boxes were the major sources of litter on campus. In order to communicate the impacts of litter to the student body, students presented their findings and research at Fremont Open Plan's Science Night event with the help of Jeff Kirschner, founder of Litterati. Students placed plastic recycling containers near garbage cans, resulting in less plastic wrappers on campus.

Notes from the Field

"The first litter pick-up at school was shocking, so kids are becoming more aware. They're also being better at recycling recyclables and not throwing everything in the trash. At home, they're talking to parents about our box drink campaign and more kids are coming to school with reusable drinking containers."