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Ocean plastics in the Arctic

This Ocean Plastics in the Arctic live lesson introduces students to the issue of marine plastic pollution and how plastics in the UK could reach the Arctic and affect life in the frozen ocean. This lesson is aimed at GCSE (ages 14-16) students, with older students also able to benefit if they cannot access the later lesson. The live lesson will give an overview of the topic, as well as focus on Dr Rachel Coppock’s research in the Arctic.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AXA Arctic Live 2021 live lessons will be delivered as a virtual event, with speakers joining from where they are, rather than from the UK's Arctic Research Station.

Broadcast on Wed 9 Jun 2021
  • 45 mins
  • Ages 14-16
Curriculum links

Human activity and its impact on the environment

  • Describe negative human interactions within ecosystems and explain their impact on biodiversity
  • Evaluate associated personal, social, economic and environmental implications
  • Recognise the importance of peer review of results and of communicating results to a range of audiences

If you have never joined a live lesson before, see the guidance hub, where you will find technical and educational support.

This live lesson is suited to all students studying human impact on ecosystems, and will be of particular relevance to those studying science at GCSE.

The lesson assumes no prior knowledge of plastic pollution or marine ecosystems, but students may find it useful to have researched some of the background to the issue using the Subject Updates on plastics.

Questions generated by your class can be submitted via the Encounter Live tab in your Encounter Edu profile.

Session outline

1. Introduction (5 mins)

The live lesson will open with a welcome to Dr Rachel Coppock and an overview of the research she is undertaking in the Arctic, as well as an introduction to the research location in the Arctic. The host will give any shout outs to participating students and schools.

2. Introduction to marine plastic pollution (10 mins)

Rachel will give an overview of plastic pollution, and its impact on the marine ecosystem.

3. Why study plastics in the Arctic? (10 mins)

Rachel will talk more about the research question she is focusing on in the Arctic and why it is important in the overall study of marine plastic pollution.

4. A personal response (10 mins)

Scientists are people too! There has been much written about the impact of eco-anxiety on young people, but for those on the frontlines of our changing planet, there is also a personal involvement. Rachel will share her journey of becoming a scientist.

5. Q&A and conclusion (10 mins)

The last section allows for classes and students to ask further questions to clarify any of the points covered or to deepen knowledge of other areas of marine plastic pollution.


AL2020 Speaker Jamie

Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop

Executive Director, Encounter Edu

Rachel Coppock Speaker Image

Dr Rachel Coppock

Marine Ecologist, Plymouth Marine Laboratory

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