Trash Trekkers

Regulating plastic pollution in the ocean!

Every year National Geographic hosts a national competition known as the Geochallenge. This year, the topic is Tackling Plastic! Groups of students from grades 5-8 are given the chance to come up with their own solution to this worldwide issue.


© Troy Mayne / WWF


The Three Steps

The three steps to our project are: Think, Act, & Impact



During this step, students are encouraged to brainstorm. They create an inventory to keep track of the plastics in their lives and they research their local watershed. After that they research the three parts of this local body of water: upstream, midstream, and downstream. 

The Trash Trekkers approached this step through teamwork. The group divided itself into three pairs. The first group researched our local watershed, the second group made an inventory of the plastics in their lives, and the third group researched how the plastic ended up in the ocean. After that, each pair presented their research to the group. "This allowed us to think about which body of water we wanted to research for the project," said Meghna Sridhar from the Geochallenge group. Eventually, the group decided to base their research off of their local river, the Merrimack River. 

For the next part, the group switched pairs and researched the three parts of the Merrimack River: upstream, midstream, and downstream. After putting together the research, the team began the next step. 


This required the group of ambitious eighth graders to come up with a solution to regulate plastic pollution. The group had to make a source to sea map, a video, and present their solution.

"This part was especially fun for us because we worked together as a team." said Rachel Korwan.

Our solution was to attach mesh chicken wire under the storm grates for a fast, cost-efficient, easy-to-install solution. We also decided to paint the storm drain with a vibrant sunflower to draw attention to the storm drain and to remind people to recycle and help conserve nature. The problem with storm drains is that the holes in the storm grates are too large. Many assorted pieces of plastic find their way into storm drains, either by being carried in by the wind or water or being pushed in by people. Our solution of chicken wire under the storm grate helps add another layer of holes that are smaller, making it much harder for plastic to get into the drainage pipe. The group decided to make a 3D model of the map. Due to a few setbacks, this plan was changed. This time we created an online, interactive story map. 


As a part of making our story heard we submitted our project to National Geographic. After spreading the word regarding our project the team was mentioned in their school newsletter and the Lowell Sun! In fact, this website that we made is part of our duty in keeping people informed.


Want more information?

Questions, comments or advice? We’d love to hear from you, so don’t hesitate to reach out today. Please reach out to our school website with the contact link above. From there you should be able to contact us. Please help us make the world a better place!

Diving in the Reef

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