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Do Your Storm Drains Keep the Ocean Trash Free?

Elementary, Middle

Description

In this STEM activity, the students will test the efficiency of the storm drain inlets found in their community. The resource aims to help students determine what types of litter are around their community and may be entering the local stormwater drainage system. Students will complete an experiment to test how much litter the storm drain inlets allow to enter the community's stormwater drainage system.  If they find the storm drain inlets to be working inefficiently, they will work to improve the design and also test their improvements. 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

The resource teaches the students to:

  • follow the scientific method
  • measure

Strengths

The strengths of the resource are:

  • written in student friendly language
  • contains a wealth of background information
  • provides links for more in depth study
  • follows the scientific method
  • contains options for the students to make the project their own 

Weaknesses

The following are the weaknesses of the resource:

  • A lack of assessment tools for the teacher
  • The materials may be cost prohibitive
  • The use of an utility knife may make some uncomfortable

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource would be great for a STEM group to explore or for a classroom teacher to use an experiment/assignment for their class. 

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Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • General Guide to Taking Action
  • Food & Agriculture (1)

    • Aquaculture
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Fisheries
  • Waste Management (1)

    • Solid Waste Disposal
  • Water (2)

    • Marine Environments
    • Water Quality

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

In the background information provided, the author tries to balance the exaggerations that can be found in the mainstream media with regards to the amount of plastic in the ocean.  The information continues to explain that it is a worrisome topic for scientists and that action can be taken.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

The main focus of the resource in on the environmental aspect of the issue of plastics in the ocean.  Teachers using this resource will need to supplement the discussions with the aspects of economic and social issues that interplay with the amount of plastics used in society and found in the oceans.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Very Good

In the background information that is presented within the resource, the students are given a clear pictures of what is really happening in the oceans.  As well, current research questions are explained as well as problems.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Very Good

The students are provided with practical ideas on how to make a difference in their communities with the improvements that they could make to the storm drain inlets.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Poor/Not considered

This is not a focus of this resource.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

This is not a focus of this resource.

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 Very Good

The idea that they can take action if they find that their local storm drain inlets are not efficient empowers the students.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Very Good

The students are evaluating the efficiency of the storm drain inlets found in their community and then they are acting on improving them.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

The background information provided gives a realistic sense of the present issue of plastics in the ocean.  Teachers using this resource will have to be sure to incorporate information regarding the history of this issue as well as a positive vision for the future.

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 Very Good

Students must perform an experiment in order to find the answer to the questions that are asked leaving the opportunity for multiple answers.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good

This resource does depend on the use of Math in order to calculate averages and graph answers. Links to science curriculum are included.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

The students do not generate the question in this resource.  It is given to them; however, they can self-direct when it comes to the re-design of the storm drain inlet.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Good

The variety of skills that are touched upon within the activity address a wide range of learning styles and abilities.  Unfortunately, there are no strategies included for learners with difficulties.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Very Good

The hands-on nature of the experiment, the evaluation of a storm drain inlet in their own community and the observation of the types of plastic found near the storm drain inlet make this learning activity authentic.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

Cooperative learning skills are not explicitly taught.

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

As this resource's intended audience is students, there are not any assessment tools included; however, the resource does ask self-reflection questions of the students so that they may self-assess their results and progress.

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

As this resource's intended audience is students, there aren't any opportunities for peer teaching; however, a teacher using this as a guide could easily have students teach community members about their findings with a presentation at city council meeting for example.

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 Poor/Not considered

There are no case studies included. There are links to articles on related topics within the resource.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good

The actual experiment itself is quite prescribed; however, there is a section within the resource that allows the students to "make the project their own" with suggestions as to topics that are related to the question being asked and other issues to explore.

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.