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It seems that plastic is everywhere we look these days. Whilst plastic provides an excellent solution to many of our material needs, there is also a darker side to plastic – namely it’s negative impact on the environment.

This term in Year 4, we have started to explore the world we live in and some of the environmental issues that are cause for concern. As part of this unit of work, students have also been investigating the properties of natural and synthetic materials. Enter plastic!

In Week 3, we were fortunate enough to have Vinuri Silva from The University of Adelaide come in to speak with the boys about marine plastic pollution and bacteria – the focus of her current PHD. We were amazed to learn about the many different types of plastics that exist, as well as the properties and characteristics that make this material ideal for a seemingly endless array of uses.

We were further enlightened about the plight of our oceans, specifically the ever-growing collection of plastic and microplastics that have sadly found a home in our oceans and the damage that this can cause to both human and marine life. It was fascinating to learn that amongst our ocean plastics, there now exists a ‘plastisphere’- a new and thriving marine ecosystem of bacteria and other microorganisms that live on ocean plastic.

One of the potential solutions to this issue currently being explored by scientists like Vinuri, is the development of bacteria that feeds on plastic. Hopefully this idea will motivate and inspire our boys as we continue to explore and create possible solutions to some of the environmental issues that are facing our planet!

Julian Burke
Year 4 Coordinator