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The science of polymers is brought to life in this innovative STEM resource that has students creating casein plastic from milk. As they examine the polymerization process students are actively engaged in an applied investigation where they:
This lesson supports science outcomes related to properties of materials, molecular structures and chemical changes in mixtures. There is also a strong emphasis on scientific literacy with students describing experiments, analyzing results and making predictions based on data. A natural extension of this lesson could have students investigating the reaction of casein plastic and synthetic plastic to variables like moisture or heat.
The resource also supports environmental learning about the impacts of plastics on ocean ecosystems. Students could develop a community stewardship project that has the class campaigning to reduce plastics in their municipality with simple initiatives like handing out reusable shopping bags at a local supermarket.
The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives||Very Good|
An inquiry based process sustains knowledge based learning that enables students to formulate new ideas based on evidence and experimentation.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives: |
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions||Good|
Students gain a new awareness of a manufacturing process that uses toxic materials like oil to create plastic. This leads to an enhanced understanding of the complexities associated with balancing economics and human needs with environmental conservation.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions: |
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
The content supports the development of a natural curiosity about plastic which will result in questioning and discussions about the value of community initiatives such as recycling programs in diverting plastic pollution.
|Respects Complexity: |
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning||Good|
This unit establishes a framework for many school-based action projects that could reduce the amount of plastic used locally and increase awareness of the harmful effects of plastic garbage in oceans.
|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
|Values Education||Very Good|
Plastic has become an indispensable convenience to society but plastic pollution harms marine wildlife. Students actively discuss how consumer choices can positively or negatively impact the environment and define personal sustainability strategies.
|Values Education: |
Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans||Poor/Not considered|
|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 considered|
An outdoor component where a class collects and quantifies plastic litter from a local green space could provide an opportunity for students to deepen their connection to nature by observing human impacts on ecosystems.
|Personal Affinity with Earth: |
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
This unit develops awareness of the personal plastic use while encouraging introspection about how personal choices can improve the environment on a local level.
|Locally-Focused Learning: |
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future||Good|
Plastic production and use are one of the most serious environmental issues of our time. Students describe concerns related to ocean pollution and subsequent impacts on ecosystem health, human food availability and economic costs. They will be motivated to consider how they can positively impact the sustainability of our planet through environmental protection.
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.|
|Open-Ended Instruction||Very Good|
A key strength of this resource is the emphasis on guided questioning that develops autonomous thinking related to the learning goals and provides a framework for independent investigation.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
The robust science lesson also compliments Social Studies discussions about sustainability, changing technologies and global issues. Math skills like measurement are supported by this activity.
|Integrated Learning: |
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
Students use science process skills such as inference and prediction to actively engage with the content and deepen their understanding of their responsibilities as environmental citizens.
|Inquiry Learning: |
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
Although there are no specific adaptions for differentiation the hands-on approach will appeal to a wide range of learners.
|Differentiated Instruction: |
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
Direct investigation using an experimental approach provides an authentic and meaningful learning experience.
|Experiential Learning: |
Authentic learning experiences are provided
Students work in groups to strategize, collect and evaluate experimental data.
|Cooperative Learning: |
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation||Good|
The resource includes an introductory slideshow and student worksheets that establish a communication framework for informal assessment. A student quiz is also included as a tool to formally evaluate student learning.
|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.|
Students present and describe experimental results. Group discussions related to sustainable consumption support personal action goals that students can use at home to educate others about plastics and the environment.
|Peer Teaching: |
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
Plastic pollution is a relevant and current environmental topic affecting all communities. Many Canadian municipalities are currently exploring ways to reduce plastic use and improve recycling programs.
|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|
There are many opportunities for students to expand their learning by changing variables within the experiment and analyzing results. Students will also be motivated to define strategies for reducing plastic use within their own lives.
|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.|