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how do trash
wheels work?



How exactly does a trash wheel work? In this interactive e-learning module, students will learn how the different parts of a trash wheel fit together to make trash wheels function and try their hand at trash wheel trivia. This lesson includes extension activities in STEM (designing a trash wheel) and environmental science (thinking critically about runoff into local waterways).

lesson details:

This lesson has been adapted from the warm-up to "Captain Trash Wheel is Coming" and from an exhibit activity focused on the benefit to wildlife of reducing dangerous aquatic debris. The lesson focuses on positive environmental stewardship, innovating new solutions to face current environmental threats (such as marine debris), and protecting wildlife.

The activity contains sections on the component parts of trash wheels, reviews how those parts fit together to create an effective trash-gobbling machine, discusses how wildlife can be impacted by litter and debris, and provides an interactive trash wheel quiz.

The lesson also includes optional extension activities ("Try an Official Captain Challenge!") that help students take their trash wheel learning a step further. This includes a STEM activity asking students to design a trash wheel for a given scenario; an environmental science extension focused on local waterways; and ideas for becoming proactive in protecting the land, water, and wildlife in our own communities.

topic area:


grade level:

3rd - 8th


Take advantage of MES as a resource to help teach this lesson. MES' educators can assist in reviewing information about trash wheels and litter/runoff or can provide a student Q & A on topics covered in the lesson.

Let us know if you'd be interested in having MES assist in any way with this lesson!

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