Materials List: Tracing Fluorescent Plastics in an Aquatic Environment

Each group needs:

  • paper or notebook, for introductory discussion note-taking, recording the process and observations
  • small tank, tub or bucket, in which to create a microcosm
  • oxygenating bubbler system, such as a Pawfly kit for $10 from Amazon; the kit includes an air stone, airline tubing and air pump
  • fluorescent microplastic beads, 5 μm diameter, 0.1 mg (or .1 ml) per group, such as from a 5-ml vial of fluorescent polystyrene latex beads (PSF-005UM) for $90 from Magsphere (enough for 50 teams); alternative source: 60 ml of Thermo ScientificTM Fluoro-Max dyed green aqueous fluorescent polystyrene particles (G0500B) from Thermo Fisher Scientific
  • a supply of lab experiment equipment such as petri dishes, pipettes and forceps
  • safety glasses

To share with the entire class:

  • technical capability to show the class the Food Web Visual Aid (a PowerPoint® file; same as Figure 1)
  • ~8 liters (2 gallons) stream, lake, pond or lagoon water containing a range of organisms: algae, protists, phytoplankton, bloodworms, scuds, copepods, daphnia, mosquito larvae, odonata nymphs, backswimmers and crayfish; ideally, containing a minimum of three steps within a food chain such as algae, daphnia and bloodworms, or freshwater micro invertebrates like Daphnia magna and its predators
  • natural elements/micro-habitats (rocks, shells, wood, etc.); avoid using gravel and sand as substrates because it makes micro-organism and fluorescent microbead collection very difficult
  • binocular dissecting scopes, such as the S6 Basic Stereo Zoom LED microscope 7x-45x from MicroscopeWorld
  • light microscopes
  • a way to take microscopic photographs, either with the microscopes or other add-on devices
  • UV flashlight, such as a blacklight UV flashlight 12 LED ultraviolet detector for $8 from Amazon
  • rubbing alcohol
  • filter paper, such as a pack of 100 11-cm circles of alpha cotton cellulose for $5 from Amazon