What impact can plastic have?

Lesson overview

Students discover what happens when plastic ends up in the ocean by exploring how it affects marine life. They look at simple ocean food chains and discuss the impact of plastic pollution on these species and their habitats. Students choose a food chain to recreate and write warnings about how plastic litter can affect the species in their food chain. They conclude by considering how they could reduce the amount of plastic they use such as reusable bags and avoiding straws.

Learning outcomes
  • Understand how plastic can enter the ocean
  • Discover some of the ways this impacts marine life
  • Discuss how food chains are affected by plastic pollution
  • Create an ocean food chain model with warnings about plastic pollution
  • Consider how they can reduce the amount of plastic they use
Lesson steps
  1. Ocean plastic pollution (10 mins)
    Students discover how plastic pollution ends up in the ocean and what type of plastic is typically found there.
  2. Plastic pollution and marine life (10 mins)
    They then look at how plastic pollution affects marine life by considering the impact it has on fish, birds and turtles.
  3. Food chains (10 mins)
    Students are introduced to the idea of a food chain and understand how marine life is interconnected. They examine the impact plastic pollution has on certain species and explain how this then affects the whole ecosystem.
  4. Food chain model (20 mins)
    Students create a marine food chain of their choice using construction materials and annotate with warnings about the negative impact plastic pollution can have.
  5. Reducing plastic consumption (10 mins)
    Finally, students discuss how they could reduce the amount of plastic they currently use and make suggestions of what they could do at home to make a difference.