Cookie snacks served in bulk baskets, without any disposable packaging

Project-Based Science

Grades 4–6
Calabasas Elementary School
Watsonville, CA

Major Objectives

  • Investigate the cause of the high volume of snack wrappers on the playground
  • Create and implement a plan to reduce the amount of snack wrapper litter


Students at Calabasas Elementary School noticed that there were many snack wrappers left discarded on the playground — and that most of them came from the cafeteria. Students collected data on the number of snack wrappers on the ground every Friday for a month. They then created a slide show explaining the problem and offering solutions that they presented at an all-school assembly. During Zero Waste Week, they made a video to share with classmates. They also conducted a survey with the student body and asked them to sign a pledge to eat in the cafeteria and throw their trash away in the trash cans. After this intervention and a month of continued data collection, the school saw a reduction in snack wrapper litter. As a next step, students hope to add more trash cans with lids for the playground and petition the district to provide bulk snacks instead of individually-wrapped single-serving packets. They are also organizing weekly campus-wide clean-ups.

  • Project Length:
    3 months
  • Outreach:
    12 students
  • Community Partners:
    NOAA Ocean Guardians Program
  • Related Aquarium Teacher Program:
    Ocean Plastic Pollution Summit

Notes from the Field

"The students really came together as a team working toward a common goal!"