Activity Introduction

Quick summary: This lesson incorporates clips from Blue The Film as learning inspiration. Students explore the different types of plastics that are found in our oceans. The begin by participating in a prior knowledge quick draw activity to tune them into the issue of plastic waste. They then conduct an experiment to observe how plastic and liquid sources of pollution interact with our oceans. Following an analysis of their results, students return to their quick draw activity to record how their thinking has changed over the course of this lesson.

blue-white-logo-120pxBlue is a feature documentary film charting the drastic decline in the health of our oceans. With more than half of all marine life lost and the expansion of the industrialization of the seas, the film sets out the challenges we are facing and the opportunities for positive change. Blue changes the way we think about our liquid world and inspires the audience to action. Find out how to screen or download the film here. Along with the film is an ambitious global campaign to create advocacy and behaviour change through the #oceanguardian movement. To become an ocean guardian, see the website.

Learning intention:

  • Students understand how different materials (hard and soft plastics, liquids and oils) interact with the ocean,
  • Students understand how different types of waste impact our oceans.

21st century skills:


Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 5 Science

  • Solids, liquids and gases have different observable properties and behave in different ways (ACSSU077)
  • Decide variables to be changed and measured in fair tests, and observe measure and record data with accuracy using digital technologies as appropriate (ACSIS087)
  • Compare data with predictions and use as evidence in developing explanations (ACSIS218)
  • Reflect on and suggest improvements to scientific investigations (ACSIS091)

Year 6 Science

  • Changes to materials can be reversible or irreversible (ACSSU095)
  • Identify, plan and apply the elements of scientific investigations to answer questions and solve problems using equipment and materials safely and identifying potential risks (ACSIS103)
  • Compare data with predictions and use as evidence in developing explanations (ACSIS221)
  • Reflect on and suggest improvements to scientific investigations (ACSIS108)

Syllabus outcomes: ST3-12MW, ST3-4WS.

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.7.

Relevant parts of Year 5 Science achievement standards: Students classify substances according to their observable properties and behaviours. Students use equipment in ways that are safe and improve the accuracy of their observations. They compare patterns in their data with predictions when suggesting explanations. 

Relevant parts of Year 6 Science achievement standards: Students compare and classify different types of observable changes to materials. They follow procedures to develop investigable questions and design investigations into simple cause-and-effect relationships, and identify where improvements to their methods or research could improve the data. 

Topic: Blue The Film, Ocean Conservation, Water.

Unit of work: Blue The Film: Inquiry – Years 5 & 6.

Time required: 60 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – lead students in experiment and discussions.

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one copy per student. Device capable of presenting a website to the class. A3 piece of paper and two coloured pencils for each pair of students. Experiment materials for each group: hard plastic (lids, caps,bottles), soft plastic (bags, food packets, ziplock bags), tablespoon, cooking salt, water, food dye, cooking oil, medium to large bowl, 1 litre beaker or measuring cups.

Keywords: Blue The Film, ocean conservation, plastic, waste, liquid pollution, experiment.

Cool Australia and Northern Pictures would like to acknowledge the generous contributions of GoodPitch² AustraliaShark Island InstituteDocumentary Australia FoundationThe Caledonia Foundation and Screen Australia in the development of these teaching resources.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.

© 2017 Northern Pictures and Cool Australia


Teacher Worksheet

blue_rubbish-plastic-digger-bucket_untitled_1-463-2-edit_photoframeTeacher Preparation

Learning intention: Students understand how different materials (hard and soft plastics, liquids and oils) interact with the ocean and how this impacts our oceans.

Success criteria: Students will...

  • Know three different types of oceanic pollution.
  • Know the physical properties of different sources of pollution (plastics, hard, soft, liquid).
  • Know the different ways materials may change over time in marine environments.
  • Know how to help reduce plastics entering the ocean.
  • Be able to conduct a science experiment.
  • Be able to report and analyse the results of a science experiment.


Teacher content information: From space, our planet appears as a tiny blue dot in the vastness of space. No matter where you live on our blue planet – you’re connected to the sea.

But the seas are under threat. The industrialisation that has occurred in the oceans over the last century, mirrors the events that triggered mass extinctions on land. Industrial scale fishing, h

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: Why do humans love plastic?

Saltwater Sea Experiment

In this experiment, you will be looking at what happens to plastic and liquid waste when it enters the ocean. Your first step is to make a seawater solution.

Making Seawater: 35ppt solution

  1. Make a sea solution by measuring 35gm of salt (approx. 3 tablespoons).
  2. Add the salt into 1 litre of water
  3. Fill the bowl with salty water.

You then need to follow the instructions your teacher will read out to you to complete your experiment and record your observations on the table below.

Observing the plastic pollution

  1. Choose 2-3 different types of plastic items to test in the water.
  2. Predict: What do you think will happen?
  3. Observe: Watch what happens to the plastic items.
  4. Explain: How do the different types of plastic behave in the water?

Predict: What you think is going to happen? Observe: What you saw happening Explain: Why do you think this happened?


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