Search for Resources

Discover the Technology Loop

Secondary, Middle

Description

The purpose of this unit is to help students develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to analyze the entire life cycle of electronics (from design, sourcing their materials, manufacturing, distribution, use and end-of-use). It will challenge students to consider the technology life cycle using a global perspective that encompasses humans and the rest of the natural world, and in so doing, help students come to understand that humans are in fact an integral part of nature, and not distinct from it. 

Students will use puzzles to learn about the advantages and disadvantages arising from the use of resources such as plastic, bioplastics, copper and cardboard during the technology life cycle. The puzzle will also prompt them to consider why they should care about the issues they uncover. Students will use these puzzles, and a case study describing the sustainability initiatives of one electronics company, to conduct a hands-on analysis of the life cycle of a common object. After the analysis, students will be provided with at least two opportunities to suggest a positive change regarding an aspect of the object’s life cycle.

Lesson 1.  Students complete a word wall and graphic organizer associated with a reading that helps them to learn about the resources used and consumed in the design, manufacturing, distribution and end-of-use stages in the life cycle of electronic products.  Students then complete a puzzle activity to examine advantages and disadvantages associated with the life cycle of electronic products.

Lesson 2.  Students complete a quiz regarding the life cycle of electronic products and then consider the "So What" of what they are learning - the implications both global and local of life cycle issues related to electronic products.

Lesson 3.  In groups, students consider opportunities, drawbacks and challenges associated with the life cycle of a computer.

Lesson 4.  Students watch a film online that deals with the life cycle of computers and then play a jeopardy-style game that tests their knowledge of topic/concepts covered in the unit thus far.

Lesson 5.  Students read a case study about how Hewlett Packard is working to make its products more sustainable from a life cycle perspective.  Students then analyze everyday objects such as shoes, staplers, toys, etc. with the intent of making life cycle observations related to the product.

Lesson 6.  Students determine strengths and challenges associated with the life cycle of the products they have observed and communicate suggested improvements to the manufacturer.

Lesson 7.  Students are encouraged to select an action project concerning energy use, recycling in their community, government regulation of resource use/disposal.

Summative Assessment Activity- Mind Map.

Note:  Most, but not all of the materials needed to complete the activities are provided.  The resource includes student worksheets, answer keys for certain activities, some ideas for assessment and direct links to suggestions and activities for use in teaching skills.

General Assessment

Strengths

  • The resource clearly describes many of the challenges and successes associated with a sustainable approach to electronic device life cycles. 
  • The word wall is a valuable tool for introducing vocabulary and key concepts at the beginning of the unit.
  • There are many opportunities for students to discuss and share ideas throughout the unit.
  • Students will enjoy analyzing consumer products for life cycle considerations.
  • Mind-mapping is a powerful learning and assessment tool.  Students typically enjoy mind-mapping and it helps them to make connections at the end of a unit.
  • The video "Mining for Computer Gold" is both accessible and informative for ages elementary and older.
  • There are many opportunities to extend the learning and let students explore areas related to their own interest based on consumer products that are so ubiquitous in our society.
  • The life cycle analysis of electronic devices is very personally relevant to students- many will be interested to learn the composition and life cycle of a product that is such a highly-used part of their lives.
  • Students will appreciate the variety of learning activties.
  • Many of the activities incorporate principles of discovery.
  • The resource provides students with opportunities for experiential and authentic learning
  • The resource emphasizes the teaching of skills.
  • The resource 'walks the walk' by incorporating many elements of effective pedogogy (working cooperatively, teaching skills, integrating curriculum, taking action) and by modelling sustainable behaviors (recycling, caring, sharing)
  • The resource asks good questions. (illustrate complexities, encourage values clarification)
  • The resource provides a unique opportunity to consider the practices and priorities of a multi-national corporation such as Hewlett-Packard.

Weaknesses

  • Presents a limited point of view.
  • Assessment suggestions are limited
  • The case study provided to students lacks many of the characteristics normally associated with this type of study/research.
  • No rubrics for assessment are provided.
  • Challenging students to identify ways of improving aspects of the product life cycle (such as alternatives to current resources, manufacturing, transportation, etc.) in a meaningful way may expect that they have considerable background knowledge related to the issue as well as recent and anticipated technological advancements that the do not have simply as a function of the ideas presented in the resource.
  • The HP case study identifies the many advancements HP has seen in with regard to product life cycle.  However, the case study is very limited in scope in that it does not reflect the amount of waste (in landfills) that HP may be responsible for, the amount that is estimated to still be directed to landfills versus recycling plants.  The resource also neglects to consider the amount of resources that HP devotes to encouraging consumers to buy HP products (and thus continue or increase the demand for raw material use) rather than reduce consumer reliance/needs/wants associated with electronic devices.  In other words, the resources looks at the degree to which HP is part of the sustainability solution but not the extent to which it is directly responsible for the problem.
  • The video suggested for older students based on the UN Step initiative is neither creative nor engaging.  The accents of all three speakers make them difficult to understand.
  • The resource mentions but does not develop or prioritize out-of-doors experience.

What important ideas are implied by the resource, but not taught explicitly?

  • Current use/reliance on electronic devices is appropriate.
  • Current/enhanced use of electronic devices can be sustainable.
  • HP is a credible world leader in developing sustainable practices related to electronic device life cycles.
  • Current efforts to mitigate the negative impacts of product manufacturing appropriately balance waste/pollution and resource consumption issues with consumer demands.
  • Problems exist but there is no real urgency to deal with them.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Chemistry
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Energy and Mines
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Energy and Mines: PRS1060:Consumer Products and Services
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Canada and the World: Governance
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry
        • Ecosystems
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Technological Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Technology Education: Production
        • Technology Education: Self & Society
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Particle Theory of Matter
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • People & Places in the World: Human Impact in Europe or the Americas
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Explore thoughts, ideas, feelings, and experiences
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Canada in the Contemporary World: Opportunities and Challenges
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geogarphic Issues of the 21st Century: Industry and Trade
        • Geographic Issues of the 21st Century: Natural Resources
  • New Brunswick
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Cultures: Environment and Culture
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Atlantic Canada in the Global Community: Technology
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 120: Investigating Environmental Issues
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Health Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Health: Environmental Health
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environment and Culture
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Health Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Health: Safety and Environmental Health
      • Home Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Home Economics Intermediate: Money Management and Consumerism
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Technological Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Energy and Power Technology: Basic Skills
        • Energy and Power Technology: Big Ideas
        • Energy and Power Technology: Design Activity
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Canadian Geography 1202: Natural and Human Systems
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Business Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Consumer Studies 1202:: Effective Consumer Purchasing
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 3205: Introduction to Environmental Science
  • Northwest Territories
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Shape and Space
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Growth of Canada: Canadian International Connections
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environment and Culture
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Atlantic Canada in the Global Community: Human Rights in the Global Community
      • Technological Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Information and Commuication Technology: Social, Ethical, and Human Issues
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Technological Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Exploring Technology 10: Engineering Technology
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Shape and Space
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry and the Environment
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Drama
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Drama 10: General Outcomes
      • Music
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • General Music 10: History of Western Music
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Politics & Government
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Drama
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Drama 20:Improvisation
  • Ontario
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Natural Resources around the World: Use and Sustainability
      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions in the Environment
        • Pure Substances & Mixtures
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Academic): Interactions in the Physical Environment
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Applied): Interactions in the Physical Environment
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Health Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Life Learning Choices
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Technological Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Intermediate Industrial Technology Education: Technological Responsibility
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Technological Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Intermediate Industrial Technology Education:Technological Responsibility
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interdependence: Atlantic Canada in the Global Community: Human Rights in the Global Community
        • Interdependence: Atlantic Canada in the Global Community: Trade in the Global Community
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 421A: Sustainability of Ecosystems
        • Science 431A: Ecosystems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 621A: Environmental Challenges and Successes
  • Quebec
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • History & Citizenship Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • A social phenomenon of the present
        • First experience of democracy
        • Industrialization: an economic and social revolution
        • Winning of Civil Rights & Freedoms
      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Technological World
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • History & Citizenship Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • A social phenomenon of the present
        • First experience of democracy
        • Industrialization: an economic and social revolution
        • Winning of Civil Rights & Freedoms
      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Technological World
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physical Education & Health
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physical Education and Health: Adopts a healthy, active lifestyle
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Applied Science & Technology: The Earth and Space
        • Environmental Science & Technology: The Earth and Space
        • Science & Technology: The Earth and Space
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 7: Life Science: Interactions within Ecosystems
    • Grade 10
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Canada and the World: Human and Physical Environment
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry
    • Grade 8

Themes Addressed

  • Economics (1)

    • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Waste Management (5)

    • Cradle-to-Cradle
    • Hazardous Waste
    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    • Solid Waste Disposal
    • Source Reduction

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Bias Minimization Satisfactory

The resource is presented from the perspective of the producer of electronic devices and so reflects priorities related to production but makes an effort to recognize the environmental, social and economic aspects of production.  The resource describes what HP is doing regarding waste reduction and resource use.

While the resource does refer to the notion that the four R's are presented hierarchically, it does not apply that thinking to choices we make about electronic devices and our own lifestyle from a larger perspective.  The resource starts from premise that our current use of electronic devices is good- we just need to promote a sustainable approach to this lifestyle.

Views from governmental, academic and environmental organizations that routinely monitor problems related to product cycles are not well represented in this resource. 

Bias Minimization: Presents as many different points of view as necessary to fairly address the issue(s).
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good
  • The resource does a very good job of addressing environmental and social dimensions relating to both problems and solutions.  Greater attention could be paid to the economic, ethical and health aspects pertinent to this issue.
  • Some information is provided regarding the connection between product manufacturing and disposal and human/animal health issues.
  • Aspects of life-cycle concerns that HP has given attention to are addressed while others are not (information is provided about the amount of HP devices recycled but not about the degree to which HP knows the performance of supply chain handlers).
  • Political dimension is addressed using a film from the United Nations. Unfortunately, the film is appropriate only for older students with solid English language skills.
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

The resource effectively addresses multiple dimensions of problems and solutions. These should include the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

Respects Complexity GoodThe resource explores many aspects of waste production and reduction.  Students are taught considerations for cradle-to-cradle product assessment and apply them to objects found in their daily lives.
Respects Complexity: The complexity of problems is respected. A systems-thinking approach is encouraged.
Action Experience GoodThere are a good number of action project suggestions. The action projects flow well from the other activities in the kit; they are not extensions. There is a link to a free, very thorough 'how to take action' guide.
Action Experience: Provides opportunities for authentic action experiences in which students can work to make positive change in their communities.
  • Poor = action activities poorly developed
  • Satisfactory = action opportunities are extensions instead of being integral to the main part of the activity
Action Skills Good
  • Skills are taught or resources are provided (through reliable weblinks) for students to take action for all initiatives described such as: research; letter-writing; energy-use monitoring and reduction; other.
  • Suggestions are made throughout the resource for the teacher to model sustainable actions such as using paper that is "good one side", using recycled paper for handouts, encouraging students to turn lights out when leaving the classroom, etc.
Action Skills: Explicitly teaches the skills needed for students to take effective action (e.g. letter-writing, consensus-building, etc.).
Empathy & Respect for Humans Good
  • An effort is made in Lesson one to alert students to the impact of electronics life cycles on First Nations people.   
  • The film 'Manufactured Landscapes' graphically shows students an aspect of the impact ewaste from wealthy countries is having on financially poor countries.
  • Throughout the resource, students are asked to consider social environmental impacts on 'all humans, near and far'.
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Poor/Not consideredThis is not a strength of the resource.  It is suggested that one of the lessons be conducted outdoors (in the school yard) but no significant effort has been made to connect the learning in this lesson or others to 'out-of-doors' experience. 
Personal Affinity with Earth: Actively encourages a personal affinity with non-humans and with Earth. For example, this may involve practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors.
Locally-Focused Good

Lesson two does a good job in connecting students emotionally to the issue and lessons five, six and seven include activities that provide authentic experiences to help make the learning concrete.

Locally-Focused: Encourages learning that is locally-focused/made concrete in some way and is relevant to the lives of the learners.
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

Students gain a sense of the amount of electronic waste generated globally and progress towards using resources more efficiently in activities such as the Resource Puzzle and the video links provided.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Satisfactory

The resource does a very good job raising questions for which there are no single or simple answers. Students are not overtly directed to adopt a particular point of view. However with the limited number of views represented and a 'case study' in which HP serves as both the subject and the author, teachers must be aware of the subtle influence this creates.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning Satisfactory

While the majority of the themes and topics presented in the resource addressed outcomes relating to social studies and technology, the activities did incorporate knowledge and skills from other subject areas such as language arts, science, communication and art.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning: Multidisciplinary= addresses a number of different subjects Interdisciplinary= integrated approach that blurs subject lines Good: The resource provides opportunities for learning in a number of traditional 'subject' areas (eg. Language Arts, Science, Math, Art, etc.). Very Good: The resource takes an integrated approach to teaching that blurs the lines between subject boundaries.
Discovery Learning Very Good
Discovery Learning:

Learning activities are constructed so that students discover and build knowledge for themselves and develop largely on their own an understanding of concepts, principles and relationships. They often do this by wrestling with questions, and/or solving problems by exploring their environment, and/or physically manipulating objects and/or performing experiments.

  • Satisfactory = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use & some direction on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides some opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event
  • Good = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use, & make their own decisions on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides definite opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event.
  • Very Good = Students choose what questions to investigate as well as the materials/strategies to use to answer them.
Values Clarification Good

In one of the early activities students clarify and express their feelings as to why they should care about the issue. In lessons that follow and as more information is revealed, students are referred back to this exercise to review or revise these thoughts. Students are also given a number of authentic tasks such as emailing, letter writing and interviewing by phone to communicate their values and ideas.

These activities would be more effective if the issue was being described from a broader range of perspectives.

Values Clarification: Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
  • Poor = Students are not explicitly given an opportunity to clarify their own values.
  • Satisfactory = Students are given a formal opportunity to clarify their own values. The range of perspectives in the resource is limited, therefore, students do not have an appropriate amount of information to clarify their own values.
Differentiated Instruction Good

The activities address both the cognitive and affective domains. 

There is a broad range of activities including:

  • Brainstorming
  • Groupwork
  • Video watching
  • Jigsaw Puzzles
  • Jeopardy-like game
  • Case study
  • Hands-on analysis of everyday objects (shoe, stapler, toys, etc.)
  • Mindmapping

No accomodations are suggested.

Differentiated Instruction: Activities address a range of learning styles/different intelligences. They teach to both cognitive and affective domains. Accommodations are suggested for people with learning difficulties.
Experiential Learning Very GoodThe direct analysis of daily objects (shoes, toys, etc.) encourages students to look closely at objects in their lives. Making suggestions to companies regarding current practices (Lesson 6) provides an opportunity for students to apply learning in an authentic manner.  
Experiential Learning: Direct, authentic experiences are used.
  • Satisfactory = simulation
  • Good = authentic experience
  • Very Good = authentic experience related to the primary goal of the lesson
Cooperative Learning Good

Students frequently work through activities in small groups that require and reward cooperation. Instructions and support for teaching cooperative learning skills are not written into the activities themselves but can be accessed from an on-line toolbox for teachers.

Cooperative Learning: Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
  • Satisfactory = students work in groups
  • Good = cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good = cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory

Opportunities include:

  • Jigsaw puzzle completion
  • Graphic organizer
  • Game show participation
  • Groupwork/class posters
  • Opportunities for discussion with students (daily object analysis)
  • Letter/email to company regarding product life cycle

A summative assessment mind map actiivty is well developed, but no rubric is provided.

No opportunities for self-assessment are provided. 

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
  • Students are sharing their knowledge with consumer product manufacturers when they write a letter or email to a company that provides recommendations to improve aspects of a product life cycle.
  • No peer-instruction opportunities are included.
Peer Teaching: Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
  • Satisfactory = incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good = an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies SatisfactoryThe 'case study' presented to students in lesson five illustrates few case-study characteritics and might be more accurately described as an 'annual report'.
Case Studies: Relevant case studies are used. Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events in real situations that can be used to examine concepts in an authentic context.
Locus of Control SatisfactoryIn lessons one to six, the scope of the students' locus of control is very narrow. In lesson seven, students could be provided with much more freedom with respect to the action project.
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.