Katy Smith had an opportunity to inspire 28 sixth-grade students at Frederica Academy during their “Coastal Ecology – Carpe Vitam” weeklong school event. Scientists and activists were invited to present a variety of environmental topics to the students. Smith discussed her work addressing human impacts on the marine environment, with a focus on plastic in the oceans and emerging contaminants from consumer products.

The students participated in a drawing and discussion activity and afterwards, a hands-on demonstration was used to introduce wastewater treatment concepts, highlighting the recent issue of plastic micro-beads from facial scrubs entering the aquatic environment. This introduction was timely since the students were scheduled to tour the local wastewater treatment facility the very next morning.

At the end of the program, the group was presented with several resources: two books (Tracking Trash and The Flying Debris), and a customized marine debris resource guide, to which one young student approached Smith saying, “I will be looking in that a lot. I love to read!”