How can you make sure your discoveries have an impact?

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Lesson overview

Having made their discovery that microplastics affect zooplankton feeding and that this could have devastating environmental consequences, the question is, what changes do they want to see, and who should make them?

Learning outcomes

  • Give some ways scientific discoveries can have an impact (Foundation)
  • Produce and implement a small-scale impact plan that reaches 1-2 people (Developing)
  • Produce and implement an impact plan that reaches 2-50 people (Competent)
  • Produce and implement a large-scale impact plan that reaches 50 or more people (Expert)

Lesson steps

  1. Brief from Dr Ceri Lewis (10 mins)
    Use the slides to set the context and share the learning outcomes. Use the video 'Science and society' to discuss the wider context and introduce some of the lesson ideas.
  2. The ‘Bambi effect’ (10 mins)
    Use the slide to illustrate the concept of ‘charismatic megafauna’ leading into the idea that while zooplankton aren’t pretty, they are vital and it’s the students’ job to tell other people why.
  3. How do scientists have an impact? (5 mins)
    Students learn how the research part of a scientist’s work is only part of the story and understand the variety of ‘pathways to impact’ available to researchers. In this lesson, students will work in small groups to address the public engagement strand, ie working to have an impact on society.
  4. Producing an impact plan (20 mins)
    Student groups develop an impact plan, considering the change they want to see, their target audience, and the communications methods they will use to bring this change about.
  5. SMART targets (10 mins)
    Each group creates SMART targets to help them deliver their plans.
  6. Pledge and self-reflection (5 mins)
    Students finish the lesson by pledging to deliver their impact plans and reducing the amount of microplastics entering the marine environment.

Home learning

Students implement their action plans.

Flip it

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

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