Trip to Bali inspires LB High School teacher to make a difference in the classroom | Herald Community Newspapers
Megan Grahlfs, a community member and marine science teacher at Long Beach High School, is on a mission to combat plastic pollution. She drew inspiration from her Global Exploration for Educators Organization trip to Bali last July.
The organization helps teachers travel internationally, building global connections in education. They provide incentives like grants and credits, turning teachers into ambassadors who share their experiences with students. The goal is to inspire a more aware and socially responsible younger generation.
During her trip, Grahlfs was struck by the pervasive plastic pollution.
She witnessed rivers clogged with plastic and burning trash near Mount Batur. Bali, typically known for its beauty, is also a major contributor to global plastic pollution.
Despite the Balinese government’s efforts to restrict the use of numerous plastics, enforcement remains limited. The surge in tourism driven by social media popularity has resulted in an overwhelming amount of waste, surpassing the island’s capacity to manage it.
“This experience gave me a broader world view, which helped me change my teaching perspective,” Grahlfs said. “It is like watching a movie without fully understanding the small details. When someone points out the plot or details, the movie will have more meaning when you watch it again.”
Back in her Long Beach classroom, Grahlfs created an approach to tackle the plastic crisis. Her 120 students were assigned to create educational brochures about marine ecosystems and plastic pollution. The goal was to distribute these brochures to tourists on fishing boats to foster awareness and responsibility among visitors.
“The lesson I created based upon my trip was a way students could ‘travel’ to Bali and experience marine life on the Blue Lagoon and Tanjung Jepun reef,” Grahlfs said. “My tour guide in Bali, Gede Sukayarsa, provided me with resources to share with my students and organized the place we mailed our brochures to.”
Grahlfs believes that education is key to addressing environmental problems. By encouraging her students to educate others, she hopes to create a ripple effect, encouraging mindful habits and participation in local cleanups. Her approach reflects a belief that small actions, multiplied, can make a significant impact in the global fight against plastic pollution.
“As a Marine Science teacher, I encourage students to speak to their families about what they learn in class, such as the importance of using reusable water bottles, and the impact released balloons into the atmosphere has on the environment,” Grahlfs said. “I also give extra credit for them to attend beach cleanups – reinforcing the idea that they are doing their part in helping protect the marine environment.”
In a world where microplastics infiltrate daily life, Grahlfs shows that education can be a powerful tool in addressing environmental challenges.
As her students embrace their roles as environmental advocates, the impact of Megan’s lessons extends well beyond the walls of her classroom.
“I would not have fully understood the marine plastic problem in Bali if I had not seen it first-hand,” Grahlfs said. “It not only helped me design a relevant lesson, but it also provided me with a different insight into how important a topic can be once a student can assign real-life applications to it.”
Megan Grahlfs, a community member and marine science teacher at Long Beach High School, is on a mission to combat plastic pollution. She drew inspiration from her Global Exploration for Educators Organization trip to Bali last July. The organization helps teachers travel internationally, building global connections in education. They provide incentives like grants and credits,…