Students Unmask the Hidden Pollutants: A microplastics expedition along the shores of Attica region in Greece
The students of Ellinogermaniki Agogi Secondary School are embarking on the Microplastics citizen science project aiming at quantifying the level of microplastics in different beaches across the broader Attica region in Greece. Implementing this experiential learning approach, both inside and outside the school environment, students aim to become active citizens in environmental research, raising awareness about the impact of microplastics on coastal ecosystems and our daily life.
The project begins with an exploration of what defines a beach, educating students about its ecological importance. Students learn about micro and meso plastics, categorizing and studying their sources and impacts on the environment. Before conducting the study, students investigate the characteristics of the beach, gaining knowledge about its location, geology, flora, fauna, and human activities. Once at the beach, students perform a sieve analysis of sand samples, separating microplastics from the sand and categorizing them. They also assess their role as responsible beachgoers, observing and engaging with fellow visitors to discuss environmental awareness and practices. The project includes estimating the number of people at the beach and conducting a beach litter analysis to identify the types and quantities of plastic waste present. Students have the opportunity to interview beachgoers to understand their perspectives on beach usage and their awareness of plastic pollution.
Moreover, the project involves studying the presence of macro-, meso- and microplastics on the beach, conducting visual surveys and analyzing different spatial patterns. Students explore the overall impact of plastics in everyday life, discussing the life cycle of plastics, waste management strategies, and the importance of reducing plastic production and consumption. The project concludes with reflections on personal and collective action and responsibility, encouraging students to think critically about their role in addressing microplastics pollution and proposing actionable steps to mitigate pollution patterns. To communicate the results and the findings, the entire school community will organize seminars, workshops and presentations for their peers, parents, and the local community members. By engaging in these activities, the students become advocates for change, promoting pro-environmental action and encouraging others to adopt sustainable practices and reduce the use of single-use plastics.
In addition, the Microplastics project goes beyond data collection and analysis. The students will actively participate in beach clean-up activities, removing macro plastics and promoting in parallel the importance of coastal ecosystems conservation practices. To this end, by experiencing the impact of plastic pollution at first-hand, the students will develop a sense of sustainability citizenship and environmental responsibility towards protecting marine life and preserving the beauty of their local beaches. Through their citizen science initiative, these students are paving the way towards a cleaner, healthier coastal environment in Attica and beyond.