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Tracking Plastic Rubbish: Citizen Science Project

28. April 2016

This April, the Citizen Science project “Tracking Plastic Rubbish” entered its next round of activities. Until July, fifth – tenth grade students from 70 German and Chilean schools will once again collect, classify and analyse rubbish that has been washed up on their coasts using scientific methods.

The aim of this project is to actively involve students in current research projects dealing with plastic rubbish. Moreover, it is also intended that students should develop a critical mind relating to plastic rubbish and offer a contribution for dealing responsibly with their environment. Additionally, they will also learn how to interact interculturally with Chilean students. The project coordinators are ozean:labor from the Kiel Research Workshop and the Chilean university Catolica de la Norte in Coquimbo in Chile.

Katrin Kruse, who has been looking after the project in Kiel, stated: “To date, 600 students and more than 20 teachers have participated in our project. Ms Kruse summarized the first successful project phase from last year as follows: “We are experiencing a wave of enthusiasm both on the part of the students and on the part of the teachers. As well as this, a motivation to change something is evident, and the involved schools demonstrate enormous interest in integrating research projects into school life.”

The topic of plastic rubbish remains current this year as well. In recent decades, growing global consumption has resulted in enormous amounts of plastic damaging our coastal ecosystem indefinitely. In the meantime, all kinds of rubbish can be found in the depths of the ocean far away from civilization. Three-quarters of this rubbish consists of plastic which is non-degradable. Shocking pictures presented by the media of polluted strands and animals and birds caught in nets are a constant cause for worry and indignation among citizens. This state of affairs has resulted in numerous campaigns in which volunteers, among them many pupils and students, becoming involved in cleaning up the beaches. However, this is only a minute contribution to solving the rubbish problem.

In the Citizen Science project, „Tracking Plastic Rubbish“, young researchers discuss a host of different issues. Where do you find the largest amounts of plastic rubbish along German and Chilean coasts? What kinds of objects are found? Where does the rubbish come from? These and other issues will be dealt with in the international network of students, teachers and scientists. Taking samples from the strand, presenting results and communicating in international teams are important learning opportunities for the students in the course of the projects.

The project period runs from April 11th till July 2016. After a presentation phase in which the learning groups introduce their tandem partners (the respective partner learning group), data collection will take place at the beach. The collected data from Chile and Germany will be uploaded on the website and then compared with each other. The learning group will then conclude the project with a public presentation. The exchange of gathered findings with Chilean students as well as the comparison of regional circumstances will take place using the project website which serves the students as a communication platform and should also promote the scientific and cultural exchange.

Further Information: (German and Spanish only)

Katrin Kruse und Dr. Katrin Knickmeier
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Tel.: 0431-880-5916