Environment and ecology

Okolje in okoljevarstvo. Ilustracija: Urška Stropnik Šonc

Environment and ecology

What is ecology and why is it important to our understanding of the world around us? This content section introduces the environment, ecology, and ecosystems. It explores the effect that humans are having on the environment. It emphasises our shared responsibility to preserve air, water, soil, biodiversity, natural resources, cultural heritage, and promote health. Additionally, we spotlight ecology as a crucial branch of biology.

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Environmental Protection and Ecological Advice

Students will be able to understand the impact of microplastics on the environment and explore solutions to address this challange. 


  • microplastics
  • littering
  • pollution
  • ocean
  • marine life


Rebecca Svetina


A robotic fish that collects microplastics

This lesson can be carried out in any of the following

  • an English lesson,
  • a class hour (homeroom),
  • a biology lesson, Note: Consider also doing the experiment as fieldwork,
  • a chemistry lesson, or
  • a geography lesson.


2nd Triad (4th–6th grade)

45 min

Published: 7. 8. 2023

Starting points for class discussion

  • What happens to your plastic bottles?
  • … if you recycle them?
  • … or if you don’t recycle them?
  • Have you ever heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
  • What are microplastics?
  • Do you konw any technology or inventions that help in preserving the environment?







Printed articles

Plastic Objects

Water in containers

Mustard Seeds

Sieve or strainer


Magnifying glasses

How Does the Lesson Proceed


An article A robotic fish that collects microplastics writes about microplastics.

Introductory Motivation (10 min)
  • Show a photograph

Vir: Adobe Stock

Note: Some English vocabulary may be difficult for your students.

Activity (30 min)

Class Discussion (15 min)

Watch the video about microplastics in the ocean.

Note: If any vocabulary, particularly “microplastics” are new to students, be sure to present them before watching the video to clarify their understanding. Consider playing “Hangman” to present the word.

Ask the discussion questions.

Explain that microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that are less than 5 millimeters in size and can be harmful to the environment and wildlife. Discuss the impact of microplastics on the environment and wildlife.

Read the article together.

Highlight key and difficult vocabulary.

Materials for discussion

  • Whiteboard and markers
  • Projector and Internet access OR
  • Printed articles (to read the Časoris article together)

Small Group Experiment (15 min)

Divide students into small groups.

Provide each group with a container of water and plastic items.

In their groups, students should place the plastic items in the water and stir them around.

Using a sieve or strainer, students should strain the water to see if any microplastics are present.

Using magnifying glasses, students should examine the plastic items to see if they have broken down into smaller pieces.

Group reflection:

  • What was hardest to pick up from the water?
  • What should we do with the plastic now?
  • Is the water clean enough to put down the drain now?
  • Do you eat fish? If so, what if the fish you ate, ate this plastic?

Materials for Experiment

  • Plastic items (e.g. straws, bottle caps, plastic bags, smashed bits) Note: Alternatively mustard seeds act very similarly to microplastics and are a good organic substitute to simply demonstrate how microplastics behave.
  • Water in (shoe-box-sized) containers
  • Sieve or strainer
  • Magnifying glasses

You may want to do the experiment once as a class unless you’re able to supply each small group with all the materials.

Conclusion (5 min)

Follow-up Discussion

Have students brainstorm ways they can reduce their own use of plastic and help prevent the creation of microplastics. Encourage them to share their ideas with their classmates and families.

Encourage students to consider the benefits and limitations of using technology to address environmental issues.

Encourage students to consider the advantages and limitations of using alternative materials, which are not made of plastic, to address environmental issues.

Teaching instructions
  • Classroom discussion
  • In-class or group experiment
  • Collective reading of the article and understanding of new concepts
  • Group reflection
Alternative Approaches

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