The Really Rubbish Litter Show

KS3 Teaching Notes

This show explores the very important issue of the impact of litter on the animals which share the world with us in a stimulating, thought-provoking, but also fun way.

Photo by Justin Hofman, one of the finalists in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017.

During the show volunteer assisted demonstrations help us find out how the currents in the air (the wind) and the oceans are formed – this then gives us an understanding of how the litter we drop on the street in our home town is then carried to other places around the world.

We look at lots of different examples of litter and find out which ones

·      Float

·      Sink

·      Dissolve biodegradable

·      Don’t dissolvenot biodegradable


Some materials dissolve/ corrode/ break down in nature quickly whilst others can take decades, hundreds or thousands of years. Some forms of litter will never break down.

If litter is biodegradable it can be digested by animals, however, non-biodegradable litter such as plastic, can’t be digested.

Plastic litter is not biodegradable

Birds, fish, turtles and shellfish can mistake litter for food. If the litter is plastic they can’t digest it so their stomachs and intestines can become full meaning they don’t have room for actual food.

All animals, whether they live on land or in the sea, can be hurt by litter.

What is the problem with plastic? BBC source

Dog poop is litter – how quickly does it dissolve. When it does dissolve where does is go? What can it do?

Dogs sometimes spin just before they poop – this phenomena allows us to discuss forces – and then explore magnetism and magneto-receptors – thus giving a volunteer the opportunity to become ‘Snoop Dog!’

Science of Storm Drains – diet coke and mentos are used here; I have built a plumbing system above the coke bottle, however, some of the pipes have been blocked how does this affect the flow of liquid through them?

Using Styrofoam, which is rapidly changed from a solid into a liquid plastic in front of their eyes, the science of chewing gum is then explored.

Where does our Litter Go? What Does it Do? Is the mantra throughout the show.

The ‘what does it do’ links to flooding and other effects on our wildlife.

Science of graffiti closes the show. Here we make invisible ink to demonstrate how thermochromatic inks work but also discuss how difficult it is to clean paint covered surfaces.

How ocean currents are formed

A sample of Curriculum Focus:
• Properties of  materials
• Dissolving
• Forces & Energy
• Polymers
• Buoyancy
• Combustion
• Acids. Alkalis and Neutralisation