Glossary: Plankton, Plastics and Poo

View all subject updates

This glossary supports teachers and students with some of the technical language used in the Plankton, Plastics and Poo unit.

Accuracy: is a way of measuring how close a measurement is to the true value. The more accurate a result is, the closer it is to the true value.

Algae: plant-like life that lack the structures that plants have, such as leaves and roots. Algae includes small, single-celled examples known as micro-algae, and larger, often multi-celled examples such as seaweed, known as macro-algae.

Bias: a sample is biased when it does not truly reflect the whole population.

Bioaccumulation: the build-up of contaminants in organisms’ tissues increases with trophic level.

Cod end: the instrument attached to the end of a trawling net to collect plastic debris or zooplankton.

Convergence zone: an area where strong ocean currents meet. These areas are often very biologically productive.

Copepod: a type of small shrimp-like plankton that performs an important role in the marine food web and carbon cycle. They are incredibly abundant, with an estimated 1,347 billion billion of them in the worlds’ oceans.

Cruise: the name to given to a research voyage at sea. It may sound like a tropical holiday, but it is completely different.

Dose: the amount of a chemical in a organisms’ tissues.

Gyre: a large system of rotating ocean currents, particularly those involved with surface winds.

Microplastic: plastic fragments that are less than 5mm across. They can consist of nurdles and larger items that have degraded.

Neuston net: a special type of net used to trawl the surface waters for evidence of plastics and plankton.

Nurdle: a small plastic bead used in the manufacturing process of plastic products, typically measuring less than 5mm across. Sometimes known as mermaid’s tears when they are found washed up on beaches.

Persistent chemicals: chemicals that remain in the environment over long periods of time because they do not break down.

Phytoplankton: microscopic plants and algae that drift on the ocean currents.

Representative: a sample is representative if it is a true reflection of the whole population. Representative samples can be used to predict accurately features of the whole population.

Sample: a subset of a population.

Trawl: scientists use nets to collect data from the ocean. The use of these nets is known as trawling. These can be towed through surface waters such as the neuston nets in this research or different nets can be lowered deeper into the ocean, depending on the research being conducted.

Trophic cascade: trophic cascades occur when the change in the population density or removal of one species in a food chain has a knock on effect on the other species in the chain.

Zooplankton: small and microscopic eggs, larvae and animals that drift on the ocean currents.

Frozen Oceans 7 11 Thumb

X-Curric | Ages 7 - 11

Frozen Oceans

Based on journeys undertaken by real explorers and scientists, the Frozen Oceans (Primary) education programme is designed to introduce students to what life is like in the High Arctic.

Frozen Oceans Geography 11 14 Thumb

Geography | Ages 11 - 14

Frozen Oceans

The Frozen Oceans Geography resources are designed to take 11-14-year-olds on a journey to the Arctic following the expedition team on the 2011 Catlin Arctic Survey.

Frozen Oceans Science 11 14 Thumb

Science | Ages 11 - 14

Frozen Oceans

The Frozen Oceans Science resources introduce working scientifically concepts and skills to 11-14-year-olds through enquiry-based lessons which replicate work done by field scientists in the Arctic.

Frozen Oceans Geography 14 16 Thumb

Geography | Ages 14 - 16

Frozen Oceans

This Frozen Oceans education resource includes two data case studies that introduce students to ocean acidification and sea ice thickness. The core of each case study is a data set from real expeditions.

Frozen Oceans Science 14 16 Thumb

Science | Ages 14 - 16

Frozen Oceans

This Frozen Oceans unit outlines the research carried out by the Catlin Arctic Surveys and can be used in teaching the carbon cycle, ocean acidification and its impact on the Arctic ecosystem.

Our Ocean Planet Science Geography 7 11 Thumb

Science / Geography | Ages 7 - 11

Our Ocean Planet

Our Ocean Planet takes students on a voyage round the world. Starting with Britain's surrounding seas, students will study the diversity and importance of the oceans from the Arctic to the Southern Ocean.

Plankton Plastics Poo Science 14 16 Thumb

Science | Ages 14 - 16

Plankton, Plastics and Poo

Plankton, Plastics and Poo for GCSE Science introduces students to the pioneering research on the impact of microplastics on the marine ecosystem. This resource brings cutting edge science to the classroom.

Code Smart Computing 7 11 Thumb

Computing | Ages 7 - 11

Code Smart

Code Smart is a computing and robotics education programme based on driverless car technologies. Code Smart takes students on a journey from complete beginners to code creators.

Code Smart Computing 11 14 Thumb

Computing | Ages 11 - 14

Code Smart

Code Smart is a computing and robotics education programme based on driverless car technologies. Students will develop their ability to code as well as their design thinking as they tackle smart city challenges.

Coral Oceans Science 7 11 Thumb

Science | Ages 7 - 11

Coral Oceans

These resources for ages 7-11 are based on the journeys undertaken by science teams taking part in the XL Catlin Seaview Survey expeditions. These resources present a complete scheme of work for the science classroom, covering core science and sustainability curriculum areas as well as enhancing students' creative and communications skills.

Coral Oceans Science 11 14 Thumb

Science | Ages 11 - 14

Coral Oceans

These resources for ages 11-14 are based on the journeys undertaken by science teams taking part in the XL Catlin Seaview Survey expeditions. Starting with the Great Barrier Reef in 2012, these expeditions seek to create a baseline survey of the world's reefs as well as more in-depth research on the deep reef lying between 30m and 100m.

Coral Oceans Geography 14 16 Thumb

Geography | Ages 14 - 16

Coral Oceans

This unique scheme of work for GCSE Geography uses research carried out by the XL Catlin Seaview Survey expedition team in Timor-Leste and focuses on the interrelationship between humans and coral reefs.

Submarine Stem Sci 11 14 Thumb

Science | Ages 11 - 14

Submarine STEM

Submarine STEM challenges students to consider aspects of submarine design. Each lesson contains a practical investigation examining the scientific principles involved in exploring the deep ocean.

Submarine Stem Sci 7 11 Thumb

Science | Ages 7 - 11

Submarine STEM

This unique scheme of work for Key Stage 2 combines science and design technology to discover the wonders of deep-sea exploration through a series of stimulating and immersive lessons.

Mvms Citizenship English 11 16 Thumb

Citizenship / English | Ages 11 - 14, 14 - 16

My Voice-My School

My Voice-My School focuses on the topic of quality education as enshrined in the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Connecting UNRWA's schools with partner schools overseas, the project seeks to stimulate student conversation about quality education and what individuals and communities can do to help make it a reality for all.

Mvms Citizenship English 9 12 Thumb

Citizenship / English | Ages 7 - 11, 11 - 14

My Voice-My School

My Voice-My school gives students the opportunity to share their ideas about education and their future. The project is grounded in the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development, with a focus on Goal 4 Quality Education. These lesson plans and resources for ages 9-12 are based on video conversations between schools.

Coral Oceans Science 14 16 Thumb

Science | Ages 14 - 16

Coral Oceans

This Coral Oceans GCSE Science unit of work challenges students to think about the impact they have on coral reefs as they study their importance, the consequences of threats and how to protect them. The cumulative approach to this unit means students will develop skills throughout to complete a decision-making exercise in the last lesson.

activity age bookmark-fill icon bookmark boy-girl calendar chevron-down icon close icon compass cross icon download encounter-live facebook gallery icon instagram icon Instagram icon linkedin links icon location mail icon map next play previous professional-development right-arrow icon search share single image social-media speaker spinner icon students subject-update teacher-resources tick icon time twitter user video-lesson video youtube