Plastics and bioaccumulation

Lesson overview

In this biology Key Stage 3 (KS3) lesson, students will learn about plastics and bioaccumulation. This lesson is focused on how chemical pollutants cause harm to marine organisms. Included are teacher resources to model bioaccumulation and an orca case study.

Learning outcomes
  • State that pollutants can enter an organism’s body from the environment
  • Describe how energy and pollutants are passed through a food chain / web
  • Evaluate whether plastics contribute to bioaccumulation
  • Analyse data to identify trends
Lesson steps
  1. How do our surroundings affect us? (10 mins)
    Students are shown two images and predict how the environment can change the health of a person. Students are then introduced to the lesson and learning outcomes.
  2. How does this affect the ecosystem as a whole? (10 mins)
    Students create their own food chain and food web using Artic animals.
  3. Modelling bioaccumulation (15 mins)
    Students use marbles or counters to model the bioaccumulation of pollutants.
  4. Plastics bioaccumulation assessment (20 mins)
    Students complete a case study on PCBs in orcas.
  5. Review (5 mins)
    Students discuss how the image can be an analogy for the lesson.