FAQ’s and overview – The Young Darwinian and the Microplastic Challenge

What is ‘The Young Darwinian’?

‘The Young Darwinian’ is a journal and website which aims to provide an inspiring vehicle for students to publish their own work and ideas.

 Further aims are:

  1. To link students together internationally, and with mentors.
  2. To help students with their career development.
  3. To give teachers and students ideas, to help them work with the curriculum more creatively.
  4. To give teachers the opportunity to learn about student projects in other schools and Universities.
  5. To enable students and teachers to learn how the education system works in countries other than their own.
  6. To give students access to mentors and information about entrepreneurship, and the private sector, in science and engineering.

The journal will include items based on STEM*, STEAM**, Entrepreneurship and Natural History.

*Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths,

**STEM for the Arts,

The Young Darwinian Microplastic Challenge

The challenge is for all of us, especially students, to look for microplastics in the environment and investigate the effects of this pollution.

Can Microplastics harm humans and other animals?

Can Microplastics harm humans and other animals?

Yes, microplastics can harm animals

They act as false food.

They can carry toxic chemicals like POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants)

They can carry bacteria that are toxic if eaten.

Can they harm humans?

The jury is still out on this one. Your experiments can help find the answers.

Can they harm humans?

The jury is still out on this one. Your experiments can help find the answers.

Why take part in The Young Darwinian Microplastic Challenge?

Where can the The Young Darwinian Microplastic Challenge be done?

Everywhere: Rivers, lakes, beaches, puddles, dust, in any country in the world.

When can the The Young Darwinian Microplastic Challenge be done?

NOW – Whenever it is safe.

Why look for microplastic fibre, and not all microplastics?

Pieces of microplastic that have come from plastic bags, bottles, packaging, and many more origins, are small and irregular shaped objects. At the moment it is very difficult to identify these amongst other particles like sand and glass. The chemicals and specialised equipment needed for identification are not safe and too expensive to be used by school students. However it is possible to identify the microplastic fibres, therefore the challenge is starting with looking for these in our environment. 

How to detect microplastic fibres link

I don’t have a microscope. How do I access one?

Can I still submit other projects to ‘The Young Darwinian’ journal?

Yes, they are welcome and we would love to hear about them. The journal is for all science, technology, engineering and Mathematics. Submit your project using the ‘submit’ on the front page of the site.

Do I have to do it on my own?

No, it can be done alone, with a friend, with a group of friends, with your class.

Can I get help?

Yes, ask a friend, a teacher, a parent, anyone to help. But you must acknowledge what help you have been given in your write-up.

Am I too young to do the challenge?

No one is too young, but young children will have to be supervised. This must be acknowledged.

Am I too old to do the challenge?

This challenge is for everyone, but especially for young people.

How do I know how to search for and find micro plastic fibres?

Link to How to page

Where can I get ideas from for microplastic or other projects?

Microplastics projects page due shortly

Check out the ideas section link

Does it have to be written in English?

You can write up in any language but it will also have to be translated into English. Submit both language versions together. We can help to get your English translation right.

Can I get my work published?

Yes. Submit on the ‘submit’ form on the front page for the opportunity to publish on line and/or in the hard copy of the journal, The Young Darwinian.

The future

The Young Darwinian is working on making it possible for students to identify non fibre microplastics. This is being done with the CALIN project.

Further experiments to investigate whether microplastics have any effects on plants, animals and humans, are being planned. Information about this will be posted as soon as possible. 

Do you have ideas for experiments using microplastics?

Let us know and we will try to help and advise.

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