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Empower students to solve complex environmental issues with educational resources, in-classroom or field activities and technology

STEAM ahead with nature-based learning

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The Microplastics Educational Toolkit provides educators with resources, technology and easy-to-use instructions to teach environmental science and data interpretation, and encourages students to engage with their community about the problem and potential solutions.

It can be used for a day-long activity or incorporated throughout an entire semester. Lessons focus on STEAM, social science, and ocean literacy and helps to build competencies in critical thinking, problem solving, computational data, global citizenship, communication, ocean literacy and collaboration.


  •        Welcome Guide and suggested lesson plans

  •        Educational Resource

  •        1 vial of recovered ocean microplastics collected from beach cleanups

  •        Instructions for an in-classroom microplastics sampling activity  

  •        Instructions for an optional field sampling activity

  •        1 Saturna Imaging System 

  •        1 Data Interpretation Guide

  •        Communication tools


Microplastics are pieces of plastic less than 5 mm in size (the size of a pencil eraser) that have been found in all of Earth’s environments, including our food, water, air and even our bodies. Cleaning up plastic pollution is important, but we must also prevent it from entering the environment in the first place.   


To drive solutions, decision makers need much more data about the location and types of microplastics in different environments. With the Microplastics Educational Toolkit, students can gain the post-secondary ready knowledge, skills and hands-on experience to tackle these complex issues no matter their field of study.

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Use the Toolkit in the classroom for hands-on STEM and environmental learning. Start a project in your school!


To understand how microplastics break down, move through the water and collect on coastlines, scientists need sufficient size, shape and colour data.

Saturna is a portable camera-based imaging and illumination device that plugs into a compatible Windows computer and syncs with a web-based app to rapidly analyze visible microplastic particles.

Saturna provides students with the opportunity to use a first-of-its-kind technology to learn how STEAM can help to tackle complex environmental issues. Educators will follow step-by-step instructions and guide discussions on how data holds clues about the sources and fate of microplastic pollution.

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You can incorporate the Toolkit into several lessons over the course of the semester, conduct a day-long activity with students, provide the Toolkit to student groups or clubs for capstone and club activities, or share the Toolkit among classrooms and teachers!

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1. Welcome Lesson Planning

Understand the Kit and how it works. Be inspired with ideas on how to structure a semester-long project with suggested lesson plans.

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4. Optional Field Sampling Activity

If you have access to a sandy beach, conduct the mock sampling activity in the field in addition to the classroom. Students will may collect real microplastics they find. This step is optional, but instructions are included in the Kit.


2. Microplastic Pollution Educational Resource

Teach students about microplastic pollution, the importance of data to identify solutions, and the role of  STEAM in addressing complex environmental issues.

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5. Data Analysis

Using the Saturna Imaging System and Data Evaluation Guide, students will learn why scientists collect physical microplastics data and analyze their own data sets to identify themes, trends and solutions. 

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3. In-Classroom  Sampling Activity

Following step-by-step instructions,  run a mock scientific study for students to sample recovered ocean microplastics from sand in the classroom. 

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6. Communication Tools

Empower students to communicate their learnings through a project of their choice. Examples include art projects, campaigns, community engagement, presentations and more!

Taya Holmes, Grade 12

“The Toolkit in an invaluable addition to any classroom because it allows for hands-on experience away from a textbook - students gain a real-world perspective.”

Liam Pop-Lau, Grade 8

“Engaging my fellow students in the microplastics sampling was a perfect way to extend our extracurricular activities in an educational and fun way.”

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