8 June every year: Celebrating the ocean and our personal connection to the sea.
The world’s ocean – its temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drives the global systems that make the our planet habitable for us. But the ocean is under threat from overfishing, pollution, climate change and acidification. Without change, there is a risk there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, and a third of our fisheries have been fished beyond sustainable limits.
What is World Oceans Day?
World Oceans Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of the ocean for our survival and for the planet, and our individual and collective duty to use its resources sustainably. It is a huge global event, and in 2008 the United Nations General Assembly decided to make June 8 World Oceans Day each year. Although there is an annual theme, such as plastic or gender and the oceans, because World Oceans Day is about celebrating our connection to the ocean, there are lots of ways to raise awareness or get involved.
What happens on World Oceans Day?
You can check out what’s happening near you and around the world by searching for #WorldOceansDay. Dozens of events are held in the UK, especially around coastal areas, so you can let students and staff know about what’s going on locally and they could talk about it in class or assembly after World Oceans Day.
How about World Oceans Day in school?
A host of organisations get involved in World Ocean’s Day as partners, or using the opportunity of the day to get the message out about their interest in the ocean.
There are a huge number of teaching and learning resources to draw on from around the world. Many focus on plastic pollution, but World Ocean’s Day is also a great opportunity to reinforce or support learning about the UN Sustainable Development Goals with a focus on Goal 14 – Life Below Water, teach about overfishing in Geography or Science lessons, or even take part in a campaign or raise money to help protect our ocean.
Four ways to get involved in 2019 – at the last minute!
- Download, print and display some posters from the UN about World Oceans Day to encourage learners to find out more, or use them in parent newsletters or your social media channels to raise awareness, like these ones: World Oceans Day and the SDGs, World Oceans Day fact or Happy World Oceans Day.
- Show a short assembly slide show for primary schools from school
- Ask learners to spend just two minutes at break time or after school doing a litter pick down on the beach, by a local pond – or a litter pick anywhere around school at lunchtime to help improve the environment and recycle plastic that might otherwise end up in the ocean. You can even document your efforts on your school’s social media channels using #2MinuteBeachClean.
- Show Sir David Attenborough’s message to world leaders on World Oceans Day in class or assembly, or at lunchtime
Five top teaching and learning resource sets supporting World Oceans Day themes
- The list of resources and activities produced for the Global Learning Programme assists teachers with lesson planning for World Oceans Day. Aimed at ages 7–14, they include curriculum-based resources produced in collaboration with the subject associations for English, maths, history, geography, RE and citizenship but may also be suitable for use in other subject areas. The Global Dimension’s Activity Kit on Water and the Oceans also has links to resources.
- The World Ocean Network (from the US) has teaching and learning resources for all ages, from films to quizzes and activities, with a focus on climate, how we use the ocean, and plastics.
- The Marine Stewardship Council is the global charity behind the blue fish ecolabel showing that seafood we buy has been caught sustainably. They have produced a set of teaching and learning resources for age 10-15, including an award winning film created for young people and teachers, lessons, a game, and activity ideas focusing on sustainable fishing and wider ocean sustainability issues. Why not try playing Go Fish! with your class, which aims to help learners understand what fishing sustainably means.
- The BBC has produced a live lesson with Blue Planet Live, with curriculum relevant activities and learning resources for Science, for ages 7-11. The live lesson looked at the importance of the Earth’s rich marine life, exploring what constitutes a healthy ecosystem and the threats to our oceans such as plastics and overfishing.
- The Story of Stuff – if you haven’t used these animated films and campaign from the US in your teaching before, World Oceans Day could be a time to try them out with learners aged 11+. There’s a new one focusing on the impact of microfibres on our environment, along with campaign ideas and resources around plastics and pollution.
- Encounter Edu (previously Digital Explorer) has lots of learning resources for ages 7-16 on different aspects of the ocean that support the Geography and Science curricula – from frozen ocean to coral reefs. Sign up to join their Encounter Live experiences, where learners have the chance to speak directly to scientists working around the world.
Each year, the UN runs a global ocean photography competition.
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