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Team: Mount St Marys

UK 12-13 years old   10 / 5

Project title:

Micro plastics

Research question

What is the impact of microplastic on the environment?

Describe the local climate problem/issue you want to investigate

How micro plastics form, move in the food chain and impact ecosystems

What kind of Earth observation data will you use?

Satellite images

Describe how you plan to investigate the climate problem and which data you plan to analyse. Also, describe how you plan to access/collect the data:

research for information, collect and analyse data. Investigate how much plastic does the school community use and dispose.


Feedback from the Expert

Expert: Merle Vonthron

Hi my name is Merle. I studied Agricultural Science, Nature Conservation and Landscape Ecology. I am working at ESA as part of the School Didactics Team for Earth Observation.

Local climate problem

Plastic pollution affects soil, air, water and living organisms. Microplastic accumulate in the food chain or can be inhaled by organisms. Your project is therefore important for many sectors of our daily life. Your plan to investigate the effects of microplastic on the environment is a realistic project idea. Please make sure that you investigate a problem related to your local environment and try to find a link to climate.

 

 

Investigation plan

To use real-time satellite images, I recommend EO Browser Sentinel Hub EO Browser (sentinel-hub.com). In the Education mode you can work with pre-selected themes, like Monitoring Earth from Space and use different visualizations. I suggest this one for monitoring plastic from above. Its focused on waterbodies Ocean Plastic Detector Prototype Script | Sentinel-Hub custom scripts. You can also find satellite images from the last years to see the changes. From this context you can refer to microplastic. Another option is the European Atlas of the Seas European Atlas of the Seas (europa.eu). Here you can find more information about the pollution of the seas in Europe.

It is quite difficult to monitor plastic or microplastic in the landscape from above. You want to find out about the use and dispose of plastic in your school. So you have also the chance to take your own ground measurement. Next to the findings in your school, you could go out and started to collect plastic trash and mark it e.g., on a map. By weighing it or sorting it you get an impression at which places around your school the plastic pollution is higher.

To get more support you can ask at your local or national environment agency.

 

General expert comment:

I wish you good luck! Your topic is very important and there is a lot of data you can find. I hope you will manage to select the data most useful for your project. I am looking forward to see your results.

ESERO UK comment:

Great work from your team in putting together your investigation plan. We hope the feedback from the climate experts is useful!

To support your team’s investigation you may want to advertise for a Climate Ambassador using the STEM Ambassador network. You can find out more about Climate Ambassadors and how they could help here: https://www.stem.org.uk/ccep/climate-ambassadors

You can also find a range of climate change related resources that may help your team explore their ideas further on the STEM Learning website here: https://www.stem.org.uk/resources/collection/502831/climate-detectives-supporting-resources

Good luck and don’t forget to submit your final project on the Climate Detectives webpage: https://climatedetectives.esa.int/

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