Fort LeBoeuf Middle School Marine Debris Scavenger Hunt
Nearly 4,000 Pieces of Marine Debris Collected

Submitted by Lisa Radock, Fort LeBoeuf Middle School Science Teacher
Edited by Pennsylvania Sea Grant

Students at Erie County’s Fort LeBoeuf Middle School and Pennsylvania Sea Grant recently teamed up for a marine debris scavenger hunt. Before heading to Presque Isle State Park, the students hypothesized how many pieces of debris they might collect.  Hamilton Galbraith, Aivry Beckwith, Evan Beal, Elizabeth Allen, and Christian Ford had the closest guess at 3,500 pieces. The actual total for the day was 3,726 pieces!

Students expected to find an abundance of bottle caps and cigarette butts. But at the end of the scavenger hunt, collections separated and trash identified and tallied, it was tiny pieces of plastic that won. 

Marti Martz from PA Sea Grant talked to students about plastic nurdles (tiny pieces of plastic) and sampling techniques. What is a nurdle?  It is a piece of raw plastic that was on its way to being melted and becoming an everyday plastic ‘thing.’ Nurdles somehow get lost in the shuffle and end up on our beaches, in our waters and oceans, and can end up being in the bellies of the fish we eat. These potentially toxic nurdles cause real havoc.

The team that collected the most nurdles was Sophia Krasinski, Abbygayle Romecki, Taylor Vergotz, Tabitha Proper, and Marley Jaworski. They found 175!  Tabitha reflected on the day, saying, “We got to have fun at the beach while helping our environment and the community.”

The overall winning team was Eli Bukoski, Ben Strumpf, Wade Atkins, Nathan Feltmeyer, and Danny Church for collecting the most pieces of debris. What was their total?  In one hour, they collected 769 pieces.

Students enjoyed helping our water and spending time at Presque Isle. While some students had never been to the park before, many regularly visit the beaches. Sam Schmidt summarized the day with, “I enjoy having a day at the beach and helping the Earth.  I think you should continue this next year, it was a lot of fun.”  Fort LeBoeuf Middle School is proud of our students and their enthusiasm and willingness to be part of the solution.

Pennsylvania Sea Grant would like to thank Lisa for submitting this article, and thanks to both she and her students for cleaning up marine debris at Presque Isle State Park! 

middle school students who participated in event instruction to middle school students  student participant

Main Office: Tom Ridge Environmental Center 301 Peninsula Dr., Suite 3 Erie, PA 16505 814-217-9011