World Journal of Chemical Education
ISSN (Print): 2375-1665 ISSN (Online): 2375-1657 Website: Editor-in-chief: Prof. V. Jagannadham
Open Access
Journal Browser
World Journal of Chemical Education. 2019, 7(2), 96-101
DOI: 10.12691/wjce-7-2-9
Open AccessSpecial Issue

Student Experiments on the Topic of Micro-plastics in the Environment for Secondary Education Level II: The Coffee Pad Machine Experiment and Sediment Analysis

Sarah Vortmann1, Dominique Remy2, Jörg Klasmeier3 and Marco Beeken1,

1University of Osnabrück, Department of Chemistry Education, Osnabrück, Germany

2University of Osnabrück, Department of Biology Osnabrück, Germany

3University of Osnabrück, Department of Environmental Systems Research Osnabrück, Germany

Pub. Date: April 11, 2019

Cite this paper:
Sarah Vortmann, Dominique Remy, Jörg Klasmeier and Marco Beeken. Student Experiments on the Topic of Micro-plastics in the Environment for Secondary Education Level II: The Coffee Pad Machine Experiment and Sediment Analysis. World Journal of Chemical Education. 2019; 7(2):96-101. doi: 10.12691/wjce-7-2-9


Two simple laboratory experiments for addressing the issue of microplastics in the aqueous environment in science teaching are developed. Extraction of microbeads from cosmetic products using a coffee pad machine makes students aware of the potential emission of microplastics into the environment by using these products. Density separation of microplastic particles from beach sediment samples on the other hand demonstrates the difficulty of dealing with the problem once the particles have entered the environment. Using the low-cost experimental set-up facilitates integration of the microplastics’ topic into laboratory teaching making science lessons vivid and more interesting.

microplastic model experiment environmental chemistry chemistry in context low-cost method coffee pad machine science communication sediment analysis density separation procedure cosmetics

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  Van Cauwenberghe, L., Vanreusel, A., Mees, J., and Janssen, C. R., “Micro-plastic pollution in deep-sea sediments”, Environmental Pollution, 182, 495-499, 2013.
[2]  Nuelle, M.-T., Dekiff, J. H., Remy, D., Fries E. “A new analytical approach for monitoring microplastics in marine sediments”, Environmental Pollution 184, 161-169, 2014.
[3]  Jekel, M., Miklos, D., Obermaier, N.: Microplastics: Development of an Environmental Assessment Concept, First Considerations on the Relevance of Synthetic Polymers in the Environment, ed. Federal Environmental Agency, April 2016.
[4]  Poppe, N., Markic, S., and Eilks, I., Low Cost Experimental Techniques for Science Teaching, European Commission TEMPUS, Cornelsen Scriptor, 2010, pages 9-16.
[5]  Hunt, EJ, Zhang, C., Anzalone, N., and Pearce, JM “Polymer recycling codes for distributed manufacturing with 3-D printers”. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 97, 24-30, 2015.
[6]  Cincinelli, A., Scopetani, C., Chelazzi, D., Lombardini, E., Martellini, T., Katsoyiannis, A., Fossi, M., C. and, Corsolini, S. “Micro-plastics in the surface waters of the Ross Sea (Antarctica): Occurrence, distribution and characterisation by FTIR”, Chemosphere, 175, 391-400, 2017.
[7]  Barke, HD, Harsch, G., Marohn, A., and, Krees, S. Chemistry Education- compact version; Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2015, 143-184.
[8]  Rossa E, “Chemistry Education: Practical handbook for secondary levels I and II”, Cornelsen Scriptor, 89, 2005, [Muffle valve 1 inch amazon] Available: qid=1511304588&sr=8-17spons&keywords=muffinschieber &psc=1 [Accessed Nov. 2017].
[9]  Claessens, M., De Meester, S., Van Landuyt, L., De Clerck, K. & Janssen, “CR: Occurrence and distribution of micro-plastics in marine sediments along the Belgian Coast”, Marine Pollution Bulletin, 300 62, 2199-2204, 2011.
[10]  Ziebarth, N. “BUND Shopping Guide: Micro-plastics – the invisible danger”, Available: [Accessed Nov. 2017].
[11]  Codecheck AG, Avialable: [Accessed Nov. 2017].
[12]  Napper, IE, Bakir, A., Rowland, SJ, Thompson, “RC: Characterisation, quantity and sorptive properties of micro-plastics extracted from cosmetics”, Marine Pollution Bullrtin, 99 (1-2), 178-185, 2015.
[13]  Parchmann, I., Gräsel, C., Baer, A., Nentwig, P, Demuth, R., and, Ralle, B., “Chemistry in Context“ A symbiotic implementation of a context-based teaching and learning approach”, International Journal of Science Education, 28 (9), 1041-1062, 2006.