Design your own super plankton
  • } Target year group: years 1–8
  • c Time: 30–45 minutes
  • u Links to art, design and biology

Learning objectives

To learn about plankton, their different features, and the role they hold in the ocean.

Resources needed

  • paper
  • drawing tools (pens, pencils, etc.)
  • colouring tools (coloured pencils, pens, paints, etc.)
Hint: you can also experiment with 3D materials like cloth, cardboard, and empty washed food/drink containers. Luminous paints work great for this task.

 

Instructions


Plankton are tiny plants and animals that live in the ocean – most are so small that you need a microscope to see them! There are many different types of plankton with lots of different forms and features. Some have spikes to help them defend themselves, while others have tails that help them to swim in the ocean, and some can even glow in the dark.


1. Take a look at the examples of the different features that plankton have on the worksheet.

2. Draw your own plankton design. Mix up the features to make super plankton! You can use bright colours or make them glow-in-the-dark.

3. Build and colour-in a 3D model of your plankton design.

 

How to put the idea into practice

Read out or encourage participants to read the factsheet to learn about plankton.

Repeat for the 'Design your own super plankton' worksheet.

Provide paper and colouring/design tools and encourage participants to design their own plankton using the features they have seen on the worksheet. You can make this more interactive by using household materials to make 3D versions of the designs.

For older year groups, encourage participants to think about how their plankton design relates to certain functions they would like it to perform.

 

Explain how it works

In the ocean there are tiny plants and animals called plankton. Most can only be seen with a microscope. The plant-like creatures are called phytoplankton or marine algae, and there are millions in our ocean, providing food for marine life all over the world. There are different types of plankton with lots of different forms and features. Some forms have spikes to help defend themselves, while others have tails that help them to swim in the ocean. Some even have compounds inside them that make them glow in the dark, called bioluminescence. All of these different features help them to survive.

Phytoplankton are important because they take carbon dioxide out of the water and produce oxygen, helping to combat climate change.