Plastic Action

The focus of this workshop is to give teachers a framework for empowering students to take positive environmental action that fits within the learning outcomes, and competencies of the BC science curriculum. The issue of ocean plastics is used as an example, but the framework can be used for other environmental issues.

A 3-step approach is presented.


Motivation. Plastic Oceans short film will be shown to introduce the problem. How to use visual media and field work to motivate students to take action.


Education.  Examples of in-depth studies and experimental investigations of various aspects of ocean plastics, and how these can fit within the curriculum.

Action. A “how to” plan of action for students to follow that can lead to lasting changes at the school community, local community, and provincial and federal levels.

Target Audience



12:45 PM - 2:30 PM

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  • Margaret McCullough

    Margaret has been a science and Biology teacher in Victoria for 39 years. She holds an Honours degree in Genetics and Biochemistry, was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence and has a UNEP Certificate for expertise in Marine Litter. Margaret founded Fin Free Victoria with Rob Stewart, and has worked with school students for many years on environmental campaigns such as Fin Free, Banning the Trophy hunting of Grizzly bears and the Ban the Bag campaign. During these campaigns she empowered her students to work with their communities, NGOs, and politicians at the provincial and federal levels- the end goal being legislation. They achieved successes with a ban on Grizzly Bear trophy hunting in BC, and the use of single-use plastic bags in Victoria. She is now schools coordinator for Surfrider Vancouver Island, an ambassador for Plastic Oceans Canada, and has recently started a single-use plastic free schools BC campaign.

  • Ian Merkel

    Ian Merkel was born in South Africa and emigrated to Canada in 1975. He is a retired CPA, CA  who specialized in technology and has served on a number of N.P.O’s and Charities as a Director and Treasurer. Most recently he was Treasurer /VP of Reel Causes Society an N.P.O. screening and hosting social justice films for local Non Profits and Charities. He served on the board for over 5 years. He is President and the founder of the Vancouver Foreign Film Society an N.P.O. screening monthly international foreign films. He has participated as a documentary juror for the Leo Awards and has run a number of film festivals in Vancouver. He continues to promote and advise film festivals locally. Since retiring Ian has volunteered with the Vancouver International Jazz Festival.  For the past 4 years he has managed the volunteers for the environmental section of the Jazz festival working closely with recycling organizations and food vendors to reduce waste. Since the inception of the environmental program in 2015 the festival has seen a reduction of more than 60% in general garbage, plastic and non-organic waste. Ian is now Board Director/ Treasurer for Plastic Oceans Foundation Canada.