This activity explores sampling techniques used on Arctic field science, in this case estimating the amount of microplastic in an area of sea ice. It develops students' working scientifically skills.
(15 minutes preparation)
This activity is a fun way of learning about how scientists consider appropriate sampling and conduct a fair test to assess how much microplastics are in the Arctic.
You will need to create trays of ice with simulated ‘microplastics’ to represent a ‘region of the Arctic’. Your students will be challenged to sample and quantify amount of ‘microplastics’ in that ‘region of the Arctic’. To make these ‘regions of the Arctic’, freeze a known amount of lentils or rice in brine water (at least 32g salt per litre of water) in flat containers, such as baking/roasting trays.
Fill the trays to about 2cm in height and consider distributing the ‘microplastics’ unevenly through the tray to make accurate sampling more of a challenge for your students. Don’t forget to record the amount of ‘microplastics’ (either number of pieces or grams) that you used in each tray, which can be the same or different for each group again to challenge your students.
Students should also consider the following questions:
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