FIRST LEGO League Resources: Trash in the water

Hello FIRST LEGO League Teams!

We have created a page to help you find high-quality materials to help your team identify a problem that you can work on for the 2015-16 FIRST LEGO League challenge about TRASH.

Our focus is on:
1. SOURCES: What kind of trash is found in rivers, bays, coastal waters, and oceans. Also, where it comes from. Remember: litter is trash that is not in the right place.

2. IMPACTS: How trash can impact wildlife like turtles, birds and marine mammals. Also how it impacts humans, communities, and economics.

3. SOLUTIONS: What people are trying to do to keep trash out of the water.


Good luck to all the teams we worked with this fall -- we hope you do great in the FIRST LEGO League competitions.



Here are Liam & Theo from the "Ancient Androids FLL Team." This is one of the many teams in Virginia that are working on solutions to marine debris problems. The Ancient Androids interviewed Clean Virginia Waterways' staff and other experts as they worked on solutions to trash. Click here to see a written version of their project or check them out on YouTube!



Another team we worked with, "The Ruling Robot Falcons," (left) gave a presentation about their research to several experts with the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program and the VA Department of Environmental Quality. This team worked to create a balloon that will biodegrade very quickly.


1. SOURCES of trash in the water

TOP TEN trash items from 2014 International Coastal Cleanup

United States


1. Cigarette Butts

1. Cigarette Butts

2. Food Wrappers (candy, chips, etc.)

2. Food Wrappers (candy, chips, etc.)

3. Bottle Caps (Plastic)

3. Beverage Bottles (Plastic)

4. Beverage Bottles (Plastic)

4. Bottle Caps (Plastic)

5. Beverage Cans

5. Straws, Stirrers

6. Straws, Stirrers

6. Other Plastic Bags

7. Bottle Caps (Metal)

7. Grocery Bags (Plastic)

8. Beverage Bottles (Glass)

8. Beverage Bottles (Glass)

9. Grocery Bags (Plastic)

9. Beverage Cans

10. Other Plastic Bags

10. Cups & Plates (Plastic)

As you look at these lists, think about:

What are the Top Ten items in your state or nation? The Ocean Conservancy collects data from all over the world during its annual "International Coastal Cleanup." You can access these data by going to http://www.coastalcleanupdata.org

What are the Top Ten items in your town or around your school? You can do your own data collection! Pick up litter, and use the Ocean Conservancy's Data Form. If you do you a cleanup event in September or October, you can even send your data to the Ocean Conservancy and be part of the Internationnal Coastal Cleanup.

Dig deeper into the kinds of trash found in the oceans and in waterways. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Marine Debris Program is a great place to start:


The main impacts of marine debris on animals are from entanglement and ingestion. Learn more.


Take a look at some of the many reports and plans that are in place to reduce marine debris. You will find lots of ideas in these documents!

This website is still under construction -- please check back. Send your questions and suggestions for this web page to cleanva@longwood.edu