Do zooplankton eat microplastics? (Experiment set-up)

Lesson overview

This lesson develops students’ skills in data handling and presentation. Having learnt about microplastics and zooplankton separately, the next two lessons see students test the hypothesis that zooplankton eat microplastics. In this first lesson, students set up a classroom practical to collect primary data. They then process the secondary data collected by Dr Ceri Lewis and her team.

In the next lesson, students will practise drawing conclusions from their own observations and Dr Lewis’ data.

Learning outcomes

  • Calculate differences and plot points on a graph accurately (Foundation)
  • Calculate averages, choose appropriate graphs to draw, and draw your own scales on axes (Developing)
  • Handle anomalies, draw lines of best fit, and range bars (Competent)
  • Find linear equations (Expert)
  • Calculate standard deviation (Advanced)

Lesson steps

  1. Brief from Dr Matt Cole (15 mins)
    Use the slides to set the context and share the learning outcomes. Use the video 'Science in the lab' to discuss the wider context and introduce some of the lesson’s ideas.
  2. Common mistakes in graphs (10 mins)
    Using the slides, students learn common mistakes that are made when people draw graphs.
  3. Practical set-up (10 mins)
    Students set up their practical to investigate if zooplankton eat microplastic. Students will study the results of their experiments in the next lesson.
    Set up the practical investigation safely.
  4. Handling and presenting field data (20 mins)
    Students practise their data handling and data presentation skills using the real data collected by Dr Lewis’ team in the field.
  5. Self-reflection (5 mins)
    Using slides, students consider how alternative ‘teachers’ may have delivered the lesson.

Flip it

Ask students to watch 'Science in the lab' the video prior to the lesson and answer the questions on one of the video worksheets.