Sustainable journey across the Great Map

The Great Map at the centre of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich proved the perfect prop for our latest STEM and sustainability workshop which welcomed sixty pupils from four London based schools.

The day’s activity began by mapping out the 5 ocean gyres (a large system of circular ocean currents formed by global wind patterns and forces created by the Earth’s rotation) that form around the world onto the Great Map in the centre of the National Maritime Museum. The students then investigated why the direction of rotation of these gyres is different in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere and learnt about the Coriolis effect.

Ocean gyres circle large areas of stationary, calm water whilst the circular motion of the gyre draws in marine debris, mainly plastics, which accumulate over time and break down into tiny particles. These tiny plastics particles can be as small as the algae and plankton which makes up the beginning of the ocean’s food web meaning birds and fish mistakenly eat them. This lead on perfectly to a workshop which looked at ocean plastics and the effects they have on our environment. We used recycled plastic materials, such as milk bottles and plastics bags, that the young people had brought in from home, to create the garbage patches that form in the centre of the gyres. Students were then asked to investigate how plastic impacts marine ecology using a fun interactive fishing rod game which asked them to pair up the issues and solutions.

1851 Trust Sustainability Lead, Alex Pickett commentedIt was great to see the children learning about the global issues of ocean plastics and even better for them to realise that small changes to their lives, like using a reusable water bottle and saying no to single-use plastics straws, really make a difference in the long term.

The day concluded with the students exploring Land Rover BAR’s exhibition, located within the National Maritime Museum, getting a unique behind-the-scenes and hands-on experience of the technologies used and design challenges faced by the team during the 35th America’s Cup. The students applied their STEM findings from the exhibition to design and build a model boat that could hold mass – the best designed boat managed to hold 6.5kg!

Student from The Royal Docks Community School commentedI’ve had a great day learning about STEM and looking at ways in which I can be more sustainable to help protect our environment. My favourite part was designing and building the boats.

Overall, the pupils had a great day out, exploring STEM subjects and looking at the importance of sustainability and ocean health using elements from our Tech Deck workshops and online educational BT STEM Crew resources.

Are you a teacher? Sign up to BT STEM Crew and book your visit to the Teck Deck for an inspiring day out for your pupils to Land Rover BAR’s HQ and to discover more curriculum-led STEM workshops.


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