Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures

Using Ocean Adventures in the Classroom
A Word from Jean-Michel Cousteau
Educator Guide to Voyage to Kure
Educator Guide to Sharks at Risk
Educator Guide to The Gray Whale Obstacle Course
Educator Guide to America's Underwater Treasures
Educator Guide to Return to the Amazon
Educator Guide to Sea Ghosts (Belugas)
Educator Guide to Call of the Killer Whale
The Watershed Quest
Tips for Using Science Multimedia
Educator Web Links
Download Library
Outreach Partners


Kure Waste Chase Game Lesson

In the Web-based game Kure Waste Chase, students take on the part of an Ocean Adventures expedition member volunteering for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and explore various habitats (beach, water surface and underwater) to collect as much harmful marine debris as possible in a limited amount of time. Use the tips and handouts below to turn the Kure Waste Chase game into a structured learning activity for your students.

pdf thumbnail Download the printer-friendly PDF version!

Grades 6 through 10

One to two class periods

Students will be able to:

  • identify marine debris.
  • explain multiple effects marine debris can have on ecosystems.
  • illustrate general patterns of ocean currents.



National Science Education Standards Grades 5-8 (at
Science As Inquiry -- Content Standard A:
Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry

Physical Science -- Content Standard B:
Motions and forces
Transfer of energy

Life Science -- Content Standard C:
Regulation and behavior
Populations and ecosystems
Diversity and adaptations of organisms

Earth and Space Science -- Content Standard D:
Structure of the earth's system
Earth in the solar system

Science in Personal and Social Perspectives -- Content Standard F:
Populations, resources and environments
Natural hazards
Risks and benefits

Ocean Literacy: Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts (at
Essential Principle #1: Earth has one big ocean with many features.
c. Throughout the ocean there is one interconnected circulation system powered by wind, the tides, the force of Earth's rotation, the sun and water density differences. The shape of ocean basins and adjacent land masses influence the path of circulation.

Essential Principle #5: The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.
d. Ocean biology provides many unique examples of life cycles, adaptations and important relationships among organisms (symbiosis, predator-prey dynamics and energy transfer) that do not occur on land.

e. The ocean is three-dimensional, offering vast living space and diverse habitats from the surface through the water column to the seafloor. Most of the living space on Earth is in the ocean.

Essential Principle #6: The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.
e. Humans affect the ocean in a variety of ways. Laws, regulations and resource management affect what is taken out and put into the ocean. Human development and activity leads to pollution (point source, nonpoint source and noise pollution) and physical modifications (changes to beaches, shores and rivers). In addition, humans have removed most of the large vertebrates from the ocean.

f. Everyone is responsible for caring for the ocean. The ocean sustains life on Earth, and humans must live in ways that sustain the ocean. Individual and collective actions are needed to effectively manage ocean resources for all.

In the first two-hour episode of Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures, Voyage to Kure, Jean Michel Cousteau leads an expedition to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). (Read a detailed description of the program.) Kure Atoll is the primary location where vast amounts of drift marine trash concentrate in the NWHI. Marine debris collects at Kure Atoll because of its northern location, which puts it directly in the path of a major Pacific current. Tons of fishing nets and debris wash up on its reefs and beaches every year, creating a major entanglement hazard for monk seals, sea turtles, seabirds, sharks, fish and crustaceans. Although the other islands in the chain collect debris as well, Kure is the most vivid example because it is the most remote.

Based on the experiences of the Ocean Adventures team in the NWHI, Kure Waste Chase is a fast-paced interactive game in which students are the environmental heroes, ridding the NWHI of dangerous marine debris and learning about the ecosystems that they are helping to save. Playing the part of an Ocean Adventures team member volunteering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, students visit three separate locations -- the beaches of Kure Atoll, the surface water surrounding the atoll and the underwater coral reefs neighboring the atoll -- on their quest to gather as much marine debris as possible in an ever-shortening period of time. During their mission, students will have the opportunity to add to their scores by collecting information about the specific items they gather as well as information about the various species and ecosystems they encounter. Upon completion of the game, students will analyze their data and compile a report describing what they have learned, then submit their report to the Volunteer Supervisor (the teacher).


  • Using blank student handouts, play Kure Kure Waste Chase yourself, paying particular attention to where you think your students will need extra guidance.
  • Review the Game Background and the Answer Key.
  • Based on the availability of computers, decide the best way for students to play the game -- individually, in pairs or in groups.

1. Review Background Information: It will be helpful if your students have a general understanding of ecological relationships before beginning the interactive - review terms such as "predator," "prey," "producer," "consumer" and "decomposer." You may also want to introduce students to the location of and facts about the NWHI on the interactive map.

2. Introducing Marine Debris: Use ideas from the Voyage to Kure Viewing Guide to set the scene. Pay particular attention to the Segment Suggestions for the marine debris theme (film clips from Laysan Island and Midway Atoll). If you do not have access to the Voyage to Kure episode, use the Ocean Adventures or Ocean Futures Society Web sites to find pictures or bring in samples of marine debris to show to students, then lead a class discussion about the danger to animals and ecosystems.

3. Game Setup: Pass out the Volunteers Wanted! notice, a fictional volunteer position posting from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service introducing volunteers (the students) to their marine debris removal mission. Explain to students that as part of the Ocean Adventures team, they will be a part of this volunteer mission. Give students an overview of how to play Kure Waste Chase, hand out the Location Data Sheet, the Marine Debris Data Sheet and the Species Data Sheet and explain that they will be collecting information for later use on these organizers. Have students record their hypotheses on their Location Data Sheet before game play begins.

4. Game Play: Allow students sufficient time to play the game and collect data.

5. Data Sharing: Set aside time for students to gather in small groups to review data after game play has ended to ensure all students have understood the game.

6. Reporting Information: Pass out the Reporting Data handout and explain the directions. Students will submit this "report" to you, their Volunteer Supervisor.


  • Depending on the number of computers available, you might want to make adjustments, such as having students play the game on alternate days.
  • When students are working in groups, it may be advantageous for each group member to collect different information for the organizer, then share it with the rest of the group (be sure to have group members rotate who actually plays the game). Another option is to have separate individuals/pairs/groups collect different information, then share their data in small groups after game play. For example, pair #1 collects species data, and pair #2 collects marine debris data; after game play, the two pairs join together to share and explain the data they have collected.


These Ocean Adventures lessons and other materials are available as printer-friendly PDFs (Portable Document Format). To download and view the lesson plans as a PDF, you may first have to get Adobe Acrobat Reader, available for free on Adobe's Web site. The Reader is available for most computer platforms, and once downloaded the lessons may be viewed on-screen as well as printed out. Get Acrobat Reader software (at

Jessica Neely is the KQED Education Network Project Supervisor for Science Initiatives. Prior to this she was a secondary Life and Environmental Science Teacher. KQED Education Network uses the power of KQED Public Broadcasting to inspire learning by providing projects for youth and curriculum materials and professional development for teachers, child care providers and families.