Happy World Oceans Day!

This is a guest post from Susan Bales, the FrameWorks Institute President.

In celebration of World Oceans Day, the Washington Post ran an article in its KidsPost section oriented specifically to young readers. We have reposted it here so we can see what we can do, as framers, to help better communicate the challenges our oceans currently face.

An ocean-size challenge

The 58 U.S. national parks are well known for protecting and preserving some of the nation’s most remarkable geography and landmarks. But did you know that there is a similar group of treasured and protected national sites in the ocean, called national marine sanctuaries? Fourteen of them dot the waters of the United States.

Protecting the ocean and its sea life is important for many reasons, but it’s a huge challenge; just one sanctuary near Hawaii is bigger than all of the country’s national parks put together, according to Michiko Martin, education coordinator for the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. The area covered by the 14 sanctuaries “still only represents less than 1 percent of U.S. waters,” she said.

Since today is World Oceans Day, KidsPost’s Margaret Webb Pressler asked Martin about the three biggest challenges facing the ocean.


Trash can be deadly for marine life.

“It comes from ships, or trash that’s blown off of the shore and enters into our waterways — there are many different ways that it gets there,” she said. Fish, birds and animals can be injured or hurt by the debris, getting tangled in it or eating it. Birds have been known to eat trash and feed it to their young, which can make them sick.

The National Marine Sanctuary program organizes cleanup projects in protected areas and helps educate people about keeping trash out of the nation’s waterways.


This big word refers to a change in the chemical properties of the water. If you were to soak a seashell in vinegar, which is very acidic, it would begin to fall apart after just a few minutes. That same process is happening at a much more gradual pace in the ocean.

Over time, more-acidic water makes it difficult for marine life to create the hard, bonelike structures they need, including including coral, shells and skeletons.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (the result of pollution) dissolves into the ocean and causes chemical changes in the water. National Marine Sanctuary programs monitor protected areas for these changes and test solutions to the problem.

Species loss

Slight changes in the ocean’s temperatures, cleanliness and chemical balance have already caused many species to become extinct. “Largely, the ocean is unexplored; there are so many species that have yet to be discovered,” Martin said. But scientists know that species are disappearing before they are even found.

This can upset the balance of predators and prey in the ocean. But it can result in unknown losses, too. Many medical therapies are based on plant and animal life from the ocean. Every lost species could represent a lost opportunity for a new medical treatment.

Marine sanctuaries try to protect species by preserving the areas where animals produce their young.

For more information, you can visit the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries online at sanctuaries.noaa.gov . For kid-friendly material, click on the “education” tab. Always ask an adult before you go online.

Try taking a look at this article and evaluate it, using a Strategic Frame Analysis approach:

  • How well does the article establish why we should be protecting the oceans?  Are there missed opportunities where a strong Value would help orient the young reader to the goal of ocean protection?  Let us know what you would insert and where.
  • How clear and memorable is the explanation of the mechanisms for global warming and ocean acidification? Would the addition of a Simplifying Model help here and, if so, how might you incorporate it into the story to drive home the process that threatens the oceans?
  • In this article, marine sanctuaries are “the solution” being proposed.  How well does the narrative hold together to lead young readers to understand how the solution fits the problem?  In a good narrative, the solution should practically write itself, or be entirely aligned with the problem definition.  Is there any additional narrative help that could be inserted into the article to set up the solution even better?
  • Finally, as you think about articles like this that might prove useful in your organizational materials that reach families, how might you engage young people to give them a sense of agency and responsibility, so that they are active on this issue as future citizens?

Post your thoughts so that we can all benefit from your framing reflections!


Susan Bales



2 thoughts on “Happy World Oceans Day!

  1. This is an exemplary use of FrameWorks. The metaphors are well done…I really like the action of acid(vinegar) on a shell to illustrate . The paragraghs open with an issue that attracts your attention and directs thought. It provides solutions that are bigger than an individual but individuals also have a role. It is an article with hope. I didn’t know we still had unidentified species waiting to be discovered or at least I never thought of it and so I feel a sense of adventure too. Well written, perhaps for children but also applicable to adults that are not marine biologists, the lay person. You might reinforce it a bit with values but often these values and cry to save the planet lay guilt on children that are not really in a position to change the WORLD.Children have a role for sure but do not bear the ultimate responsibility.


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