Week 11: Gyres, Garbage and Landfills

We have mentioned the word GYRE before when discussing ocean garbage. This week we will become very knowledgeable in the subject of Ocean Gyres.

You are probably asking why this week’s topic has landfills mixed with ocean Gyres. You will learn why later.

Let’s begin understanding what a Gyre is.

According to NOAA – a gyre is a large system of rotating ocean currents.

Wind, tides, and differences in temperature and salinity drive ocean currents. The ocean churns up different types of currents, such as eddieswhirlpools, or deep ocean currents. Larger, sustained currents—the Gulf Stream, for example—go by proper names. Taken together, these larger and more permanent currents make up the systems of currents known as gyres.

There are five major gyres: the North and South Pacific Subtropical Gyres, the North and South Atlantic Subtropical Gyres, and the Indian Ocean Subtropical Gyre.

In some instances, the term “gyre” is used to refer to the collections of plastic waste and other debris found in higher concentrations in certain parts of the ocean. While this use of “gyre” is increasingly common, the term traditionally refers simply to large, rotating ocean currents.


NOAA on Gyres

Garbage patch video

An ocean full of plastic PART 1

An ocean full of plastic PART 2

An ocean full of plastic PART 3

Garbage in the ocean – That’s Rubbish

Currents, Gyres, and Eddies

Building a better landfill

Recycling Facts




Gyres – Download this blank map on the link below. Then go find a map with all the ocean Gyres and fill in the blank map. Keep this map, it is going to be important.

Free Printable world map

Make a table Like this one. Fill in the information or create your own variables. Add another component by making a graph and show your findings. ( HINT – Important)

Gyre Name Location Size Current problems related to plastic garbage

Why does the Great Pacific Gyre collect the most garbage?

Landfills – What are they?  Watch this “What is a landfill” video?

Make or find a diagram of a landfill. Label it, then explain what happens at each level. Answer the questions below.

  • What is the science behind a landfill?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of a landfill?
  • Are landfills good for our environment?
  • What items are allowed in a landfill, and what items are not?
  • What is the main difference between “ocean landfills” and land landfills?
  • What is the difference between a landfill and a dump?


Does your community have a landfill? Why are we asking this question? If you search the internet, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is said to be the worlds largest landfill, even though it is in the ocean.

Can you answer these questions?

  • Does your comminuty have a landfill?
  • What are some of the biggest landfills around the country?

How Much Trash Is In Our Ocean?

Every minute, one garbage truck worth of plastic is dumped into the ocean. Yearly, a colossal 1.4 billion pounds of trash ends up in our beautiful oceans. Of this waste, much of it is plastic.”

Look at the 2 pictures below. NO, we are not promoting beer, but there are companies using products that are safe for sea creatures. We would like to use these products instead of seeing the image on the right.

What are You Going To Do About It?

You do the math….what percentage of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is plastic?

 BEST CONNECTION – Will your kit end up in a landfill?

We all know that after many years of running a BEST team we end up with extra materials. Sometimes we reuse these materials and sometimes we get rid of them. Where do our supplies end up? Do we just toss them in the garbage so they end up in a landfill or where do they go?

After writing this lesson I might think twice about how I get rid of my materials I don’t use.

What are you going to do with your unused materials?

Bloom’s Taxonomy: add, create, explore, evaluate, generate, include, identify, list, observe, reflect, review, subdivide, use, and write

Workforce Skills: critical thinking, materials evaluation, reading comprehension, science, writing


Week 7: Turtles are Friends Not Foes

These turtles are amazing. Watch this video first.

We wish this was the truth about turtles, but we know it isn’t.

Below is a picture of what is really happening to sea turtles. They are in danger, endangered, and some species are becoming extinct. Let’s take a dive into the ocean and see what is happening to our sea turtles and other sea creatures.

“You See the Difference. A Turtle Does Not” –


Infographic: Sea Turtles

What is a Gyre?

Threats from marine debris

Marine species dying from plastic trash

See How It Feels to Be an Ocean Animal Stuck in a Plastic Bag 

Ocean Crusaders

Ocean plastic pollution

BEST kit 2017

BEST Consumable Kit 2017


Make a table similar to the one below. You can use this table or create your own. You are going to be researching sea creatures that are harmed by man-made materials in the ocean. We want to see your research findings. Send your table, chart or graph to bestology@bestinc.org.

We have only given you a few suggested titles in the table; you are free to add your own title headings. 

Type of sea creature

Location Material harming them “your research topic”

“your research topic”


Math and Science: Variables and Graphing

Let’s connect a little bit to math and science. Variables and graphing is a large weakness in middle and high school math and science. Students have a tough time understanding the difference between dependent and independent variables in an experiment. Take a minute to get familiar with the difference between these two types of variables.

Once you have made your table above we want you to make a graph representing your data.

Make sure you show the following:

  • Title
  • Labels on the x and y axis
  • List the dependent and independent variables

Community Connection:

View this website. Warning, it might be too upsetting for some people

Discuss as a group what you can do to help this huge problem.

It seems simple and most of us don’t live near the ocean, so what can we as a community do to help save these animals from this huge plastic garbage epidemic.

 BEST Connection:

Look at the BEST kit. Is there anything in the kit that can cause damage to marine life if not disposed of correctly?


Bloom’s Taxonomy: add, create, explore, evaluate, generate, include, identify, list, observe, reflect, review, subdivide, use, and write

Workforce Skills: critical thinking, materials evaluation, reading comprehension, science, writing