Ocean First Institute at Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest

Ocean First   Jul 06, 2022

The Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest is a celebration of all things creative, imaginative and exploratory and gives kids and adults alike the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities within the STEAM (Science, Technology, Entrepreneurship, Arts, and Making) realm.

Ocean First Institute participated in the fest by teaching visitors all about plastic pollution, including how it affects marine life and how we can help to keep our ocean clean. Using a real tiger shark jaw, they talked about how these sharks are like the garbage belly of the ocean – scientists have found things like license plates and even a suit of armor inside a tiger shark's stomach! An albatross bolus was used to demonstrate how sea birds are eating items like rope and netting when looking for food along the surface of the ocean. Samples taken from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch showed guests what happens to plastic once it gets into the ocean – plastic never goes away, it just becomes microplastic and then travels up the food chain.

On its own, this can seem like quite the depressing spread of knowledge! However, OFI always makes sure to talk not only about the threats to the ocean, but what we can do to solve these problems. One way they taught about how we can help to keep the ocean clean was through a fun Trash Toss game: guests rolled dice to see what trash item they would be assigned (such as plastic straws, plastic wrap, styrofoam take-out container, apple core, and more), then they would have to decide how to keep that trash item out of the landfill with five choices (the 5 R's - Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot). Once they made their decision (for example - they can say they will Refuse plastic straws!), they then had to toss the dice into the corresponding hole in the board.

The goal of the day was to get people to think about how they are connected to the ocean, even here in Colorado, and to realize that they can help protect our ocean and its inhabitants every day!