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Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion (Scientists in the Field Series) Paperback – April 5, 2010


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Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion (Scientists in the Field Series) + We the Children (Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Series: Scientists in the Field Series
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (April 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547328605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547328607
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 10.9 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #143,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5–8—While the subtitle leads one to believe that the heart of this book is about the science of ocean currents, it's actually about why we need to protect our marine environment. Burns tells the tale of Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer who started to track trash (flotsam) that washed up on the shore near his Seattle home. Through floating sneakers and bath toys that accidentally fell off container ships and a computer program named OSCURS, Ebbesmeyer tracked the currents of the ocean. These experiments led to a discussion of how debris is polluting our oceans and causing harm to marine life. Burns introduces the work of several scientists who are working to clean up ghost nets and other dangerous debris. The well-written narration will keep readers engaged, and it's excellent for reports. The science is clearly explained, and the vivid and lively photographs and well-labeled charts and diagrams help to create interest and build understanding. This title will get readers thinking and possibly acting on these problems.—Esther Keller, I.S. 278, Marine Park, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In 1990, five containers packed with Nike sneakers were swept off a cargo ship during a storm at sea. In 1992, 28,800 floating bathtub toys spilled into the Pacific in a similar mishap. The book profiles two oceanographers who devised experiments using computer-modeling programs of ocean surface current movement to predict the landfall of these drifting objects. They also gathered data from the beachcombing community to test their hypotheses. The last third of the book describes the mounting problem of plastic trash in the oceans and shows how this debris is destructive to marine life. Back matter includes a glossary, bibliographic notes, and short annotated lists of books and Web sites. Spacious layout, exceptionally fine color photos, and handsome maps give this book an inviting look, though its higher reading level indicates an older audience than some earlier titles in the Scientists in the Field series. A unique and often fascinating book on ocean currents, drifting trash, and the scientists who study them. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

I write books about science for young people. From an oceanographer who tracks plastic ducks through the world ocean to an entomologist who studied mason bees in his backyard to an astronomer who spent her life puzzling over ground drawings in the desert of Peru, the scientists I meet every day -- in person or through my research -- are fascinating and passionate people. I love sharing their stories through my books.

I live and work online at www.loreeburns.com; stop by for a visit sometime!

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
It's a such a great story I forgot I was reading a science book.
E. C. Martz
Tracking Trash is the story of Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer who studies the movement of ocean currents.
Michele
It's straightforward, clear and conveys accurate information in a way that is easy to comprehend.
Kauai resident

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By E. C. Martz on May 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is amazing! It's a such a great story I forgot I was reading a science book.

Dr. Burns managed to deliver a serious message in a manner that is down-to-Earth and never preachy. Her writing style is engaging, I felt like she was sitting in the room chatting with me. The photographs are captivating, and sometimes heartbreaking.

I've recommended this children's book to several friends - all adults. It's fun to read and extremely interesting. I can't wait for Dr. Burns' next book!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By New Hampshire Robin on May 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What a great book! I read it aloud to my son and found other adults listening in. It combines geography, ecology, oceanography and probably a few other ologies. Great pictures, great story to follow. The message is that science isn't conducted only in a lab. Anyone can discover something valuable by observing what goes on around them.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michele on October 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Tracking Trash is the story of Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer who studies the movement of ocean currents. Dr. Ebbesmeyer's work has attracted attention because he has received much of his information from studying trash. It all began when his mother heard about sneakers that were washing up on a beach after a cargo ship lost one of its containers. Since then, he has tracked sneakers, Lego's, and even rubber duckies that have been accidentally spilled at sea and made their way to shore. By understanding how ocean currents move, scientists hope to solve many problems such as fish shortages and animals being caught in fishing nets. This book was very enjoyable to read and easy to understand. The pictures were large and engaging. The author did a great job at making it feel like a story while at the same time giving a lot of scientific information.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Eric Luper on April 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As I sit here with Tracking Trash in front of me, I am drawn in by everything from the engaging cover to the approachable, kid-friendly text to the vivid images that adorn each page.

This is a book that not only explains oceanographic concepts, but also gets into subjects such as the environment, conservation, and ecology. And it's all framed in a story that not only is engaging to read, but also shows how the perseverance of a few curious people can change our understanding of the world around us.

It's an important read for young and old alike.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richie Partington VINE VOICE on February 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Mr. Thompson calls the waiter, orders steak and baked potater
But he leaves the bone & gristle & he never eats the skins.
Then the bus boy comes & takes it, with a cough contaminates it
As he puts it in a can with coffee grounds & sardine tins.
Then the truck comes by on Friday & carts it all away
And a thousand trucks just like it are converging on the bay."

Perhaps the dumping of garbage into the bay is not quite as blatant today as it was back in 1969 when Bill Steele wrote his eco-ditty, "Garbage," but it seems that today's never-ending flow of plastic garbage into the oceans is of more dire and destructive consequence to the oceans' long-term survival than anything they've previously faced. This is one of the conclusions to be drawn from the fascinating and important TRACKING TRASH: FLOTSAM, JETSAM, AND THE SCIENCE OF OCEAN MOTION.

Who knew that beachcombers kept meticulous logs of their finds or that they actually held conventions? Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer who began his widely-publicized work with ocean currents and tracking trash when his mom asked him to figure out why hundreds of sneakers had begun washing up on beaches near Seattle, has uncovered significant clues through his ongoing communications with beachcombers. We learn in TRACKING TRASH that there are slight changes year to year in the oceans' currents and that projections of those current flows is now a well-refined science whose origins harken back to scientific work by Benjamin Franklin.

The first part of TRACKING TRASH is especially entertaining to read. Huge cargo containers periodically fall from enormous cargo ships in big storms. The cargo gets loose and takes off with the currents.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. K. Messner on August 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
TRACKING TRASH by Loree Griffin Burns is a trip to a different world -- our oceans. The author won a well-earned Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for this work of non-fiction that's as transporting as any novel. My kids - 5 and 10 - were entranced as I read out loud about huge cargo spills of sneakers and bath toys, where the items washed up on beaches all over the world, and what it taught scientists about ocean currents. They were horrified -- and so was I -- by stories of "ghost nets" that are abandoned in the seas to become garbage magnets and death traps for wildlife. This is an important book that teaches stewardship without ever feeling preachy, and it's well-deserving of the honors it's receiving.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cristina Heffernan on April 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What a great book. We all know we are supposed to reuse, reduce and recycle but what I did not know was how our plastic waste was effecting our oceans. What was fun about this book was that you are not lectured about the horrors of plastic waste. Instead you get an exciting view of scientists at work. They study neat things like how to predict when and where a bunch of shoes will wash to shore if they get tossed from a container ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in a storm. Part of what the scientist find is a huge garbage patch in the ocean. Read the book to find out more. To top it all off the pictures are fantastic and very intriguing.
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