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Phytoplankton Project

Learning about roles and functions of phytoplankton in the marine food chain

Project Details

Project dates
01/12/2021  – 30/06/2022
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Ethan Wong

Project Lead

Hi! We’re Evie and Emilia from YouthToSea! We’re both very passionate about climate change and environmentalism, and we both love chemistry and science. For our project, we wanted to see if we could grow phytoplankton to learn about it’s importance to our environment.

Project Description

The idea for our project began when we had the opportunity to go sailing with YouthToSea. We were able to learn about different microorganisms in the ocean and this started our interest in the subject of phytoplankton. The main steps we needed to take to achieve our goal was to do background research, acquire materials, set up our project, and observe! For the set up, we had 3 buckets of salt water with air pumps, and then we put a phytoplankton starter culture into each bucket. A few weeks after putting the starter culture in the water, we discovered that it had bloomed (growing). It was so cool to see our planned steps come to life, and we are very thankful for the opportunity. It has been such a learning experience for the both of us.

We wanted to get hands on experience working in marine sciences, and we were particularly interested in the phytoplankton in our oceans and it’s connection to climate change. We decided to grow phytoplankton to learn about the conditions in which in thrives. We introduced different variables into the system to observe the affects on the growth of the phytoplankton, and by extension, the amount of carbon it would be able to pull from our atmosphere.

What was your biggest challenge?

One of the biggest challenges we were faced with was where we would acquire our needed materials. Most of the equipment we were able to order online, but finding somewhere that would provide salt water was much more difficult. Thankfully, we were able to connect with the Pacific Science Enterprise Center and they were willing to provide us with salt water for our project. After having gathered all of our required materials, we realized that it would be another challenge to find a place to set up the project. We had the idea to set it up at school, but it took some time to find the ideal spot, since the phytoplankton would need sunlight to grow. 

What was your most valuable takeaway?

Our most valuable takeaway from this project is learning how important phytoplankton is to our environment and atmosphere. In the beginning steps, we had next to no background information on phytoplankton and we never saw it as something that could hold such importance. With this project, we have developed a deeper understanding on just how crucial phytoplankton is and the reasons for why. We’d like to thank YouthToSea as well as Ocean Wise for providing guidance and resources to us

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