The problems that are currently facing our oceans were not created in one generation and they certainly won’t be solved in one generation, either. Fisheries, for example, can take decades to rebound. Removing trash that has built up in the seas will take a massive, large-scale cleanup.

Curbing climate change requires time to reduce our emissions as well as years more to adapt or reverse the changes that have already occurred. To make real progress, we need to instill environmental responsibility regarding our oceans in our children.

How do we get kids to be engaged when it comes to ocean sustainability? There are a few methods that can come in handy to get them to realize the importance of those vast bodies of water that make up the majority of our planet.

Show How Your Classroom and the Sea Are Connected

Even kids who live in coastal states don’t interact with the ocean on a daily basis. Staggeringly, many of those kids may not have even seen the ocean. How can you get kids to care about something that they hardly even know exists?

The key here is to relate it to water in the community. The streams, creeks, rivers, and plumbing that students interact with on a daily basis all contain water that will, at some point, wind up in the ocean. This includes the trash dropped on the ground.

This provides an opportunity to learn about water science and builds a connection with the oceans to give kids a sense of responsibility.

Give Concrete Ways They Can Make a Difference

With something so vast that takes so long to make a true impact on, it can feel defeating to try to make a difference on your own. There used to be campaigns that showed why it was important to cut soda can rings before throwing them out because of animals getting caught in them.

This offers a concrete visual of the impact those actions have. When kids can make that immediate distinction, it becomes easier for them to grasp the impact that their individual actions have on the ocean at large.