In this simplified scientific paper, students will read about how plastic that ends up in our soil undergoes chemical and physical changes over time.
Students will learn that different types of microplastics react to soil differently based on their specific properties.
The paper ends with four things readers can do to help reduce the amount of plastic that gets into our soil, such as using reusable grocery bags and recycling when possible.
This is a student-friendly version of a peer-reviewed paper, with glossary terms written in blue, important information highlighted in yellow, and pictures to support student understanding.
The paper introduces students to two types of scientific instrumentation, scanning electron microscopes and mass spectrometers, which are both commonly used in research.
The original academic paper that this adaptation is based on can be accessed here.
The link to the French version of the PDF is available under "Additional Languages."
Teachers must create a free account to download the answer key.
For additional background on microplastics, students can watch the three embedded videos on this topic.
There are numerous links to related lesson plans, articles, and videos that can be used in conjunction with this resource to create a complete lesson or mini-unit on microplastics.
Students with a lower reading level may benefit from following along with the read-aloud video of the report.
Students can watch the linked video interview with Schidza Cime to learn more about her research on plastic degradation.
This paper discusses isotopes and mass spectrometry as a means to determine chemical changes, which can be further explored in chemistry classes.
In biology classes, students can discuss how microplastics in the soil can affect ecosystems.
Students can be challenged to create a plan for how to reduce plastic use in their school or home using the suggestions from the paper as a starting point.
Even though many types of plastic can be recycled, around 80% of all plastic produced ends up in landfills anyway. This research article for kids explains what happens to plastics in different types of soil and how those plastics end up in our ecosystems. This resource is heavily researched and sourced and is recommended for teaching.
Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
PS1: Matter and its Interactions
MS-PS1-2 Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.
Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.6 Analyze the author's purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.10 By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 6-8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.