We’ve all seen the heart-rending images of seabirds and turtles suffering as they get entangled in plastic debris, or eat it mistakenly then die of hunger. Plastic particles are making their way up the food chain to affect a host of marine animals and may be present in the fish that we eat. Much of this plastic enters the seas and oceans via riverways. In response to this, we have created a range of activities to promote river-based environmental awareness.
‘Drastic Plastic’ was developed in response to our observation that plastic flows down the Thames unchecked. We operate at Teddington Lock, which is the last (or the first) lock on the Thames, so plastic that goes through it flows into the North Sea. Children who study the Thames with us learn that plastic pollution is an important part of its future.
‘Drastic Plastic’ is a 45-minute workshop where pupils will:
- Collaborate to construct a map of the river out of rope and identify the locations of landmarks along the river
- Share and evaluate what they already know about the issue of marine plastic
- Consider what plastic is – what it’s made from, and why it’s harmful to wildlife
- See how plastic gets shredded and eventually turns into microplastic
- Identify common uses of plastic, examine some alternatives to plastic and think how they can be part of a global solution to the plastic problem
Rot or Not
Designed as a standalone activity, or an advanced introduction to Drastic Plastic, groups work in teams to assess different everyday items and materials for their ability to biodegrade. Teams consider material properties and investigate how natural and synthetic items take different lengths of time to rot away. By analysing this information and combining this with their prior understanding of bio-degradation, each material is placed on our ‘Rot or Not’ timeline to quantify rotting times.
Lastly, the group use the rot or not timeline to evaluate the impact of different materials on water pollution in the Thames. Pupils gain an insight into the different mechanisms that cause harm to wildlife and identify the worst offending items.
The National Curriculum targets achieved in these units are:
- Numeracy skills
- Working and thinking scientifically
- Understanding key physical processes of the earth
- Understanding how biodiversity is affected by the environment
Skills not included in the National Curriculum, but exercised in this unit are:
- Collaborative working
- Creative thinking
- Critical thinking
- Futures thinking
Our environmental-awareness activities can be booked as part of a School on the River or Eco Venturers programme. Please see booking details here.
Activities can also be delivered as part of a bespoke education event for youth groups and community groups. For more information or for booking, please contact Pippa on 020 8940 3509, or at firstname.lastname@example.org