2023 journal article
Observing Microplastics in the Environment through Citizen-Science-Inspired Laboratory Investigations
JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL EDUCATION, 100(5), 2067–2079.
As the use of plastics expands, microplastic concentrations increase in aquatic environments and negatively impact water, soil, and animals inhabiting these areas. Microplastic research frequently incorporates citizen science to assist in data collection and environmental education. These projects provide opportunities for greater societal inclusion in science by involving volunteers and increasing the science capital in individuals with fewer science experiences. Integrating the goals of microplastic citizen science projects through a high school laboratory can increase students’ knowledge of this critical issue while incorporating innovative science activities in classrooms. This paper describes three activities designed for high school students to extract, quantify, and observe microplastics from personal care products, water, and sediment samples. Relevant citizen science-inspired activities can increase environmental stewardship and students’ science capital while creating a culture of engagement with science-related activities.