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Getting Out of a Bind

Objective: To teach empathy for wildlife by simulating an animal's entanglement in plastic litter. Time: 15 minutes. Materials Needed: One large rubber band for each child. Humans are special. We have hands and fingers, and the ability to use them to get out of a simple bind. If we were entangled in fishing line, we could probably free ourselves. How? (Cut line: untie it.)

But what about a seal, dolphin, or duck? Let's see what might happen.

Image of a hand with a rubber band binding the thumb and baby finger.Procedure

Use a volunteer to demonstrate. Put a rubber band around the back of his or her hand, catching the thumb and little finger. Have the child try to remove the rubber band without using the other hand or teeth or rubbing it against something. Hand out rubber bands for everyone to try. Tell each child to pretend his or her hand and arm is a goose entangled in plastic. For example, the hand is its head, the fingers its beak and the forearm its neck. Cup elbow with free hand. Place rubber band around "beak" or "neck." Allow children only 30 seconds to free themselves. No helpers! Is everyone successful in untangling themselves? Many animals don't get free and can starve, strangle or suffocate.

Image of a hand and forearm, bent to mimic the shape of a bird’s neck and head, with a rubber band around the wrist (what would be the bird’s neck)Let's Talk About It

What plastics or other materials could the rubber band represent in a natural setting? (Fishing line, plastic six-pack rings, plastic bags, packing straps.)

How could an animal get into a situation in which fishing line, plastic bags, strapping bands, six-pack rings or net would entangle it? (By swimming into plastic accidentally; by trying to eat a plastic bag or the food inside it. A bird might eat bait on fishing line, then become entangled or take the line back to a nestful of vulnerable babies.)

Gulf of Mexico Program Office
Mail Code: EPA/GMPO
Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-6000
228-688-3726
FAX: 228-688-2709


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