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Sand Microplastics

When we think of pollution, we usually think of large things like water bottles, but there are tiny, microscopic pieces called microplastics that can enter our water in different ways.

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Plan

Do

  • Transfer the entire bucket of sand to the empty bucket which is located on the opposite end of a white bedsheet laid on the ground 
  • Choose how you would like to move the sand: by hand, with a spoon, on printer paper, or try all three! 
  • To start, weigh the bucket of sand. Try to weigh it to the highest precision possible! Begin moving the sand, one trip at a time, across the sheet to the other bucket (can be done as relay with a group). Add some obstacles in the way, hula-hoops, stepping stools, buckets of water are all possibilities. The obstacles represent natural features on the landscape 
  • When the bucket of sand has been fully transferred, the second bucket is weighed, once again to the highest precision possible. The difference is calculated. 
  • Then, examine the sheet with the obstacles to see all the various places the missing grains of sand wound up. 
  • Now try to pick up every grain of sand that was spilled during the activity. Was it possible? 

Review

  • What have you learned about microplastics that you didn’t know before?  
  • What can you do to reduce the amount of microplastics that you and your family produce?  
  • What products that you use regularly produce/contain microplastics?  
  • Even when being careful did you manage to pick up every grain of sand? 
  • Where did the most sand pile up? 
  • What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them? 
  • If you were to go out again, what would you do differently? 

Materials

  • Bucket of sand – dyed a fun colour with food colouring 
  • 1 empty bucket 
  • 1 lab scale 
  • White sheet 
  • Spoon 
  • Piece of printer paper 
  • A few obstacles 

Keep it Simple

Try these activities with different type, sizes and colours of beads.

Take it Further

How can you reduce the amount of microplastics that you produce? Research how you can do your part to reduce their impact.  What steps are you going to commit to, to reduce microplastics going into waterways?