Watch Black History and Culture Videos all year long ➜
Get smart curated videos delivered to your inbox.   SUBSCRIBE
The Kid Should See This

The Ocean Cleanup technology and challenges explained

Watch more with these video collections:

The Great Pacific garbage patch in the northern Pacific ocean holds an estimated 1.8 trillion hard-to-see pieces of plastic that float around on or just below the water’s surface. They’re kept swirling in an area that could be anywhere between the sizes of Texas and Russia by a rotating current system called a gyre.

Cleaning up the pieces has proven to be a difficult task, but The Ocean Cleanup, founded by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat when he was 18 years old, has been working on the problem for years. On September 8, 2018, the company launched a 2,000-foot (600-meter) long U-shaped barrier into the Pacific from San Francisco Bay.

The floating faux coastline will hopefully be an effective trash collection solution for the problem. The video above explains the technology.

“Our floating systems are designed to capture plastics ranging from small pieces just millimeters in size, up to large debris, including massive discarded fishing nets (ghost nets), which can be tens of meters wide.

“Models show that a full-scale cleanup system roll-out (a fleet of approximately 60 systems) could clean 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just five years.

“After fleets of systems are deployed into every ocean gyre, combined with source reduction, The Ocean Cleanup projects to be able to remove 90% of ocean plastic by 2040.”

Their maiden voyage will help determine if the system is sea life-friendly as designed and collecting as expected, or if it will need additional work.

Boyan Slat, now age 24, explains the challenges and risks surrounding the free-floating boom in this video:

Whether this works or not, conservation experts like George Leonard, chief scientist of the Ocean Conservancy, remind us that…

“A solution must include a multi-pronged approach, including stopping plastic from reaching the ocean and more education so people reduce consumption of single-use plastic containers and bottles.

“’If you don’t stop plastics from flowing into the ocean, it will be a Sisyphean task,’ Leonard said, citing the Greek myth of a task never completed. He added that on September 15 about 1 million volunteers around the world will collect trash from beaches and waterways as part of the Ocean Conservancy’s annual International Coastal Cleanup. Volunteers last year collected about 10,000 tons of plastics worldwide over two hours, he said.”

TEACHING RESOURCES:
• Ocean Plastics Academy: A variety of curriculum resources—multimedia and hands-on activities—for ages 5-16.
• TRASH TALK webinar: This video demonstration for teachers shares activities for all ages, part of NOAA’s World Ocean Day series.
• Engineering A Fix For The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a grade 6-8 Science Friday activity.
• Mapping Ocean Currents, a grade 3-8 activity from National Geographic
• Follow the Friendly Floatees, a grade 6-8 activity from National Geographic

Related reading: Giant Trash Collecting Device To Be Deployed in the Pacific Ocean and What are Garbage Patches? How you can help (pdf).

Watch these handpicked videos next:
Ocean Confetti, the challenge of microplastics
• One Plastic Beach: Making art from found beach plastic
• What is a gyre?
Gyrecraft – Transforming sea plastics into valuable objects

This Webby award-winning video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity. TKSST features smarter, more meaningful content than what's usually served up by YouTube's algorithms, and amplifies the creators who make that content.

Curated, kid-friendly, independently-published. Support this mission by becoming a sustaining member today.

🌈 Watch these videos next...

What secrets will the extinct Xerces Blue butterfly reveal?

Rion Nakaya

What Can You Actually Do About Climate Change?

Rion Nakaya

Wangari Maathai – “I will be a hummingbird”

Rion Nakaya

Ubiquitous bits of rainbow plastic, a stop-motion elegy

Rion Nakaya

Turning Oil Rigs Into Reefs

Rion Nakaya

Turn human waste into drinking water – Janicki Omniprocessor

Rion Nakaya

Transforming Human Poop Into Eco-Friendly Fertilizer

Rion Nakaya

Tim Wong and California’s Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies

Rion Nakaya

Think Like a Tree – Problem solving with nature’s best ideas

Rion Nakaya