Jotvingiai Gymnasium continues its activities in the STEM discovery campaign and aims to become the European Blue School. Our topic is “Healthy and Clean Ocean”. The main goals of bringing the ocean into the classroom are improving the understanding of the ocean and developing a sense of responsibility towards our planet. Our gymnasium teachers take the challenge Find the Blue and together with the students create the school project SPOW05 HEALTHY AND CLEAN OCEAN.

On March 30, we organized a lecture-discussion in English-Lithuanian “Plastic pollution of the ocean and its impact on living organisms”. The meeting on the Microsoft Teams platform was attended by students of grades I-II and their teachers. The lecture was given by Edita Magileviciute, a marine biologist from Alytus, who currently works for the international non-governmental Cape Verde Ecotourism Association on the Atlantic island of Santiago.

The image is the author’s own –(Attribution CC-BY)

During the lecture, students learned about marine biodiversity and how enormous damage has been done to marine habitats over the past 30 years due to coastal development, extensive plastic use and pollution. In some places the ocean lost up to 80% of marine megafauna such as whales, dolphins, sharks, rays, 99% of White Tip Shark global population was killed. A significant percentage of marine species have been found to have ingested, or become entangled in plastics. Sadly, world plastic production grows with 280 million tone a year. Due to the fact “plastic seas” get bigger and bigger.

The image is the author’s own –(Attribution CC-BY)

What is more, the lecturer provided students with important knowledge about macro and microplastics and how to recognize them. Micro-plastics are widely used in cosmetics, so you should read the labels carefully and of course not buy such products. Micro-plastic particles are so small that when they get into the rivers, seas and oceans, then through the food chain eventually enter the human body through food.

The image is the author’s own –(Attribution CC-BY)

Based on a study carried out by the University of Newcastle, the analysis suggests that people are consuming about 100,000 tiny pieces of plastic or 250 grams every year. Over 1.5 BILLION face masks now believed to be polluted Oceans thanks to 2020 disposable face masks can take more than 45 years to break down. Impact of marine biodiversity – a significant percentage of marine species have been found to have ingested or become entangled in plastics.

The image is the author’s own –(Attribution CC-BY)

We, humans, are consumers, so we need to think about what and how much we use, where it ends up. We need to help to solve the problem of plastic pollution. Cape Verdeans are showing a great example of recycling glass and plastic.

Collaborating with partners – experts, NGOs, science centres – is the key to success, helping to facilitate the design, implementation and communication of a project, as well as enabling students to gain in-depth knowledge and skills in researching the ocean topic. Consumers are us, humans, so we need to think about what and how much we use where it stays. We need to help solve the problem of plastic pollution.

Environmental monitoring: Inventory of garbage of the Nemunas coast and other water bodies

On April 1st, the students participating in the STEM discovery campaign activities presented their work results. The goal was to find out how much plastic there was by the river Nemunas and other water bodies around it.

Students individually photographed, collected and inventoried the trash found. The statistical analysis was done by one group of the students who collected, processed data on the basis of visual assessment and drew conclusions. Unfortunately, the chart showed the maximum amount of plastic trash.

The image is the author’s own –(Attribution CC-BY)

Another group of students created posters about their own and other project participants’ observation experiences, presented them in English and demonstrated excellent public speaking skills.

By participating in the project, students improve their communication skills, perform meaningful activities, and become more integrated into their local community. We are happy with the students’ activity and participation in the project.

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About iribinsjiene

Physics Teacher, International Baccalaureate IB diploma programme physics teacher, Alytus Jotvingiai gymnasium, Lithuania; NBS pilot teacher, VilniusTech university class coordinator, Scientix ambassador in Lithuania, STE(A)M IT ‑ Career Advisers Network member; Certificate Member of the EU4Ocean Platform, Network of the EU Blue Schools;