Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students explore the issue of microplastics. They begin by looking at what microplastics are and where they come from by watching clips from War On Waste and reading news articles. They then conduct an experiment to test a range of water samples from different sources to find out whether these samples contain microplastics. Students are asked to analyse results and reflect on their findings.

Cool Australia’s War On Waste lessons have been developed in partnership with Lune Media and with support from the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network. These lessons have been designed to lead students through a deeper understanding of some of the big issues relating to waste in Australia and to support them to take action to reduce the impact of waste on our environment. To access the full War On Waste unit for Years 7 to 10, click here.

Learning intentions:

  • Students understand what microplastics are and where they come from
  • Students understand some environmental and human health issues associated with microplastics
  • Students understand that microplastics can be present in our drinking water.

21st century skills: 

   Critical ThinkingCommunicatingProblem FindingTeam Work            

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 7 Science

  • Some of Earth’s resources are renewable, including water that cycles through the environment, but others are non-renewable (ACSSU116)
  • Collaboratively and individually plan and conduct a range of investigation types, including fieldwork and experiments, ensuring safety and ethical guidelines are followed (ACSIS125)
  • Measure and control variables, select equipment appropriate to the task and collect data with accuracy (ACSIS126)
  • Construct and use a range of representations, including graphs, keys and models to represent and analyse patterns or relationships in data using digital technologies as appropriate (ACSIS129)
  • Summarise data, from students’ own investigations and secondary sources, and use scientific understanding to identify relationships and draw conclusions based on evidence (ACSIS130)
  • Reflect on scientific investigations including evaluating the quality of the data collected, and identifying improvements (ACSIS131)

Year 8 Science

  • Collaboratively and individually plan and conduct a range of investigation types, including fieldwork and experiments, ensuring safety and ethical guidelines are followed (ACSIS140)
  • Measure and control variables, select equipment appropriate to the task and collect data with accuracy (ACSIS141)
  • Construct and use a range of representations, including graphs, keys and models to represent and analyse patterns or relationships in data using digital technologies as appropriate (ACSIS144)
  • Summarise data, from students’ own investigations and secondary sources, and use scientific understanding to identify relationships and draw conclusions based on evidence (ACSIS145)
  • Reflect on scientific investigations including evaluating the quality of the data collected, and identifying improvements (ACSIS146)

Year 9 Science

  • Plan, select and use appropriate investigation types, including field work and laboratory experimentation, to collect reliable data; assess risk and address ethical issues associated with these methods (ACSIS165)
  • Select and use appropriate equipment, including digital technologies, to collect and record data systematically and accurately (ACSIS166)
  • Use knowledge of scientific concepts to draw conclusions that are consistent with evidence (ACSIS170)
  • Evaluate conclusions, including identifying sources of uncertainty and possible alternative explanations, and describe specific ways to improve the quality of the data (ACSIS171)
  • Communicate scientific ideas and information for a particular purpose, including constructing evidence-based arguments and using appropriate scientific language, conventions and representations (ACSIS174)

Year 10 Science

  • Plan, select and use appropriate investigation types, including field work and laboratory experimentation, to collect reliable data; assess risk and address ethical issues associated with these methods (ACSIS199)
  • Select and use appropriate equipment, including digital technologies, to collect and record data systematically and accurately (ACSIS200)
  • Use knowledge of scientific concepts to draw conclusions that are consistent with evidence (ACSIS204)
  • Evaluate conclusions, including identifying sources of uncertainty and possible alternative explanations, and describe specific ways to improve the quality of the data (ACSIS205)
  • Communicate scientific ideas and information for a particular purpose, including constructing evidence-based arguments and using appropriate scientific language, conventions and representations (ACSIS208)

Syllabus outcomes: SC4-12ES, SC4-5WS, SC4-6WS, SC4-7WS, SC5-5WS, SC5-6WS, SC5-7WS, SC5-9WS.

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.3, OI.7, OI.9.

Relevant parts of Year 7 Science achievement standards: Students plan fair experimental methods, identifying variables to be changed and measured. They select equipment that improves fairness and accuracy and describe how they considered safety. Students draw on evidence to support their conclusions. They summarise data and refer to the quality of their data when suggesting improvements to their methods. They communicate their ideas, methods and findings using scientific language and appropriate representations.

Relevant parts of Year 8 Science achievement standards: Students consider safety when planning investigations, including designing field or experimental methods. They identify variables to be changed, measured and controlled. Students construct representations of their data to reveal and analyse patterns and trends, and use these when justifying their conclusions. They explain how modifications to methods could improve the quality of their data and apply their own scientific knowledge and investigation findings to evaluate claims made by others. They use appropriate language and representations to communicate science ideas, methods and findings in a range of text types.

Relevant parts of Year 9 Science achievement standards: Student design methods that include the control and accurate measurement of variables and systematic collection of data and describe how they considered safety. They analyse trends in data, and analyse their methods and the quality of their data, and explain specific actions to improve the quality of their evidence. They use appropriate language and representations when communicating their findings and ideas to specific audiences.

Relevant parts of Year 10 Science achievement standards: Students independently design and improve appropriate methods of investigation, including field work and laboratory experimentation. They explain how they have considered reliability and safety actions in their methods. When analysing data, selecting evidence and developing and justifying conclusions, they identify alternative explanations for findings and explain any sources of uncertainty. They construct evidence-based arguments and select appropriate representations and text types to communicate science ideas for specific purposes.

Topic: Waste, sustainbility.

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work: War On Waste – Years 7-10.

Time required: 60 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate discussions and oversee students designing and/or conducting experiments.

Resources required:

  • Device capable of presenting an online clip to the class
  • Microplastics Science Experiment Instructions
  • Microplastics Article
  • Student Worksheet – one copy per student
  • Equipment for experiment:
    • Vacuum filter set (see here)
    • Filtered water
    • Filter paper
    • Petri dishes (one for each type of water you’re testing)
    • Tweezers
    • Paper and pen
    • Microscope
    • Different types of water – try to collect a range of water from different sources, making sure you have the same amount of each sample. These could include water from the school taps, home taps, bottled water, filtered water, water from your local creek or from the sea.

Keywords: War On Waste, plastic, microplastics, experiment, water.

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

Worksheets

Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • … understand what microplastics are and where they come from
  • … understand some environmental and human health issues associated with microplastics
  • … understand that microplastics can be present in our drinking water.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • … follow instructions to conduct an experiment
  • … select equipment for experiments
  • … consider safety considerations and take appropriate measures to reduce risks
  • … record and analyse data
  • … work collaboratively
  • … participate in class and group discussions.

Teacher content information: In Australia, we began addressing the issue of waste in the 1960s and '70s with litter campaigns like Keep Australia Beautiful and Tidy Town Awards. With such a long history of waste reduction campaigns, you would think we had got on top of the waste issue; however, as the recent recycling crisis shows, we're still trying to solve the issue of waste in Australia.

Why is thi

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.

Reflection

Work independently to complete the following:

P - What did you like about this lesson? What was a PLUS?

M - What did you find challenging about this lesson? What was a MINUS?

I - What did you find INTERESTING about this lesson? What information was new to you or did you find surprising?

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