A nationwide citizen science project on plastic litter - using rivers to enhance ocean literacy

Tim Kiessling1, Katrin Knickmeier2, Katrin Kruse2, Dennis Brennecke1, Martin Thiel3 and Ilka Parchmann4, (1)Kiel Science Factory, Kiel, Germany, (2)University of Kiel, Kiel Science Factory, Kiel, Germany, (3)Universidad Catolica del Norte, Facultad Ciencias del Mar, Coquimbo, Chile, (4)Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, Germany
To attract people and engage interest in ocean sciences, a project on plastic pollution in rivers was initiated to involve people who live inland in ocean topics and enhance their ocean literacy. So far five nationwide plastic samplings in German rivers and streams (from 2016 to 2019) have been conducted using a citizen science approach to generate data on plastic litter pollution and to promote education for sustainable development. A booklet for schoolchildren (a step-by-step guide with methods for field work) as well as learning materials and worksheets for teachers including preparation and follow-up work (suitable for educational work in both curricular and extra-curricular settings) available in English, German and Spanish were provided. Particular emphasis was put into motivating the teachers and students to participate in the project and to upload their data on the webpage. Hence, all materials could be obtained for free and feed-back on the participants’ results was a vital part of the project. To date, more than 2.000 schools ordered the booklets and materials and more than 700 datasets have been uploaded. The presentation will address our experiences with this project setting, e.g. strengths (huge amount of data and public interest) and weakness (high workload, compromises required), as well as practical advice and recommendations (e.g. conduct teacher trainings to improve data flow and quality). The project will be transferred to other countries in Europe.

Kiel Science Factory, Germany, is a school and teaching laboratory, which breaches the gap between school education and university research. Since 2012 about 30.000 schoolchildren and teachers joined different programs. The combination of up-to-date science and learning is used for increasing students’ and teachers’ knowledge and interest in research and to introduce scientific careers to the students.

Financial support of the citizen science project: Kiel Science Factory, German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, ‘The Future Ocean’, Lighthouse Foundation, Ecologic Institute.