Public Lab Research note

Messages From the Mississippi Lesson 1: Plastic Pollution

by purl | January 27, 2021 21:29 27 Jan 21:29 | #25560 | #25560


Available as a Google Doc here.**

Time: 90 minutes

Materials: Whiteboard & markers (or other collaborative note-taking space), teacher computer that can show the below video link, student computers, slideshow with an Overview of #Microplastics

Video:_ Microplastics Explained_

Further Reading

Guiding Question: What is microplastic pollution and where does it come from?

Objective: Have students learn about macro- and micro-plastics through exploring plastic pollution sources and engaging with content through videos and guided research.


Time: 15 minutes

Review the Guiding Question & objective for today's lesson with students. Students should discuss the following questions:

  • What is plastic pollution and where does it come from?
  • Where does plastic pollution go?

Have students consider what happens when a piece of plastic is introduced to an ecosystem, i.e. a plastic bottle littered onto the ground, washed up by rain water, and deposited into the ocean, where wildlife eats its pieces. Save 4 minutes for this video.


Time: 15 minutes

Present the slides on microplastics to students, saving space for discussion and questions. If possible, present the following chart on the last slide, or print and distribute copies to students.


Time: 40 minutes


Guided Research**

Introduce the following four topics to students:

1. Have any local spills of microplastics or macroplastics occurred locally?

2. What are the impacts of microplastics on the environment?

3. What methods are used to survey for microplastics?

4. How are microplastics regulated?

Students can work singly or in pairs to research and answer the above questions.

Students should pick or be assigned one question to focus on and share in the chatroom of their classroom project page on Public Lab what their research shows.

Optional: Students can start their research at Students can also utilize the articles provided under "Further Reading", which highlight local interactions with microplastics and advocacy around them.

Optional: Allow students to self-select their research topic.

Start student research off at


Time: 20 minutes

Synthesize and Share Research

Have students write and share a summary of their research, including references or suggestions for further reading.

Optional: collect all responses in a collaborative writing space, like Google Docs


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