Public Lab Research note

Lake Pontchar-trash?

by jthomas | May 05, 2021 21:18 05 May 21:18 | #26503 | #26503


We are Brother Martin students discussing trash in Lake Pontchartrain. We are interested in measuring how much trash ends up in the lake. Our school is only a few miles from Lake Pontchartrain, and it is a beautiful feature in our local environment. We want to keep it free from trash as much as possible. In order to do this we must contribute to stop this pollution from occurring and know how to keep our environment & waters safe.

Our main concern:

One of the main concerns of the trash in the water is that the trash damages the environment, kills wildlife, spreads diseases, and pollutes the water making it risky for people to swim. Trash in Lake Pontratrain affects recreational activities, shrimping, crabbing, and fishing.

Obstacles and supporting information:

  • Time constraints to complete the research during our class
  • Need certain tools to measure trash
  • Minimizing our impact on wildlife while conducting research

  • Potential weather issues

  • Conducting on-site research as a class

Who is engaged in this concern?

  • Beach Sweep is a community clean up crew that helped clean up the shores of Lake Pontchartrain.
  • Part of the International Ocean Conservancy project that tracks trash in all the waters of the world.
  • People began to rally a campaign known as Save the Lake.
    • Emerged as the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation
    • LPBF changed name to Pontchartrain Conservancy, a non profit organization that helps clean up trash.
    • The community volunteers to help clean up.
  • What are the initial questions?

  • How are animals affected by trash in LP?

  • What is the most efficient way to clean up trash?
  • Can trash from the lake clog drains?
  • How can we help keep the lake clean?
  • How is the trash getting into the lake?
  • What types of trash are generally found in LP?
  • What tools can we use to measure trash in LP?

image description



5 Trash collection sites:

Site 1: Lake Pontchartrain (shoreline in Metairie, LA)



2 Rubber Materials 3 Metal Materials 1 Paper 9 plastic materials 1 styrofoam 16 TOTAL PIECES Total weight: 2.5 lbs

Site 2: Lake Pontchartrain (shoreline in Metairie, LA)



2 styrofoam pieces 5 plastic 10 paper masks 7 aluminum(metal) cans 24 TOTAL PIECES Time: 23:05 Weight: 2.3 pounds

Site 3: Lake Pontchartrain (shoreline in Kenner, LA)



Cardboard- 2 Plastic- 83 Metal- 3 Glass- 5 Total- 94 Weight- 6.4 Ib Time- 20:06

Site 4: Lake Pontchartrain (Lakeshore area)



Plastic - 26
Styrofoam - 13 Glass - 3 Cardboard - 12 Paper - 8 62 TOTAL PIECES Weight - 8.4 lbs Time - 32 mins

Site 5: Lake Pontchartrain (shoreline near Causeway in Metairie, LA)



24 pieces of plastic 5 pieces of styrofoam 3 glass bottles 21 pieces of metal (bottle caps) 53 TOTAL PIECES 4.6 lbs.


In class after picking out what we wanted to do on our project, we discussed how we wanted to pick up the trash around Lake Pontchartrain. After seeing how we wanted to find trash, we were divided into 5 groups and we picked different locations to start finding trash. We used Google Earth to map out our collection sites. We used the measure tool in Google Earth to choose 0.25-mile collection distances along the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. One person from each group went out to collect the trash and timed how long it took to collect trash at each site. After the person found the trash they brought it home, weighed it, sorted it by category (plastic, styrofoam, paper, glass, cardboard, metal, and rubber), and took pictures. After getting all the information the person who went out to find the trash wrote the information on a piece of paper and brought it to class. After each person brought their information to class, we remained in our groups and we were all given a task to complete. Some of the tasks were to create charts, write summaries, calculate average weight per mile, and propose solutions. We collected a total of 251 pieces of trash at the discussed locations and approximately 40% of them were plastic. Our goal was to find out how much trash is along the shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain. Based on our data, we estimate that 464.64 pounds of trash would be found along southshore of Lake Pontchartrain (24 miles).


Southshore of Lake Pontchartrain:


ESTIMATES for Southshore of Lake Pontchartrain (based on collected data): 464.64 lbs of trash along 24 miles 4,819 pieces of trash along 24 miles


  • Spread awareness
    • Make posters and hang them around Lake Pontchartrain to make a team of people that can collect the trash together. Then we could reuse the trash and make bracelets and other jewelry/clothes.
    • Make a petition to raise the fine for littering
  • Recycle more -Add recycle bins along the popular areas of Lake Pontchartrain

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