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In this STEM activity, students learn about environmental, civil, and sanitation engineering by designing and building model landfills that hold the most garbage, minimize costs, and prevent trash and contaminated rainwater from polluting the nearby city. Teams test their landfills, and graph and compare designs for capacity, cost, and performance.
This resource teaches the following skill:
This resource has the following strengths:
The resource has the following weaknesses:
This activity is an excellent resource for a STEM group or teacher who is discussing waste management with their class. It is most suitable for upper elementary and middle school students.
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||Satisfactory|
The resource is structured in a way that biases are not really stumbling blocks. The students are approaching the landfill problem scientifically so in that vein there is no need for differing opinions or points of view. It is simply a fact of does the landfill function properly or not.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives: |
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions||Very Good|
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions: |
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
|Respects Complexity||Very Good|
The students are faced with the challenge of building a functional landfill all the while keeping the cost of the project as low as possible.
|Respects Complexity: |
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning||Satisfactory|
The activity in this lesson does not provide an opportunity to make a change in the community; however, the material discussed can help the students to become more aware of their generation of waste and the impact it has on the environment.
|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||Poor/Not considered|
This is not the aim of the 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 activity.
|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||Good|
At the end of the activity students will be able to explain the alternatives to dumping human-made garbage in landfills and ways to decrease the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.
|Personal Affinity with Earth: |
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
|Locally-Focused Learning||Poor/Not considered|
While the resource does not have a local focus, a teacher could easily make this connection for the students by including a field trip to a community based landfill to see how the problem is addressed in their own area.
|Locally-Focused Learning: |
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future||Satisfactory|
While the resource addresses the current situation in terms of waste management, the teacher could extrapolate the ideas of the past and the future by discussing how waste management was dealt with in the past and how this is an important topic moving forward as our population and the demand for land both increase.
|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|
The students are asked to design, build and test their own model of a landfill without any teacher influence.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
|Integrated Learning||Very Good|
As this lesson is a STEM activity the subjects are well integrated.
|Integrated Learning: |
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
|Inquiry Learning||Very Good|
The students need to assume the responsibility for the plan of the landfill and how to solve any problems that arise with their design.
|Inquiry Learning: |
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
There are no strategies provided for learners who may experience difficulties.
|Differentiated Instruction: |
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
|Experiential Learning: |
Authentic learning experiences are provided
Within the resource there is a Roles and Optimization worksheet that is provided. This worksheet outlines each team members roles and responsibilities. A teacher could take this one step further and develop a self or peer evaluation sheet based on the criteria set out in the worksheet. Another option would be to develop a rubric of participation for each role.
|Cooperative Learning: |
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation||Poor/Not considered|
There are no tools or suggestions made for assessment and evaluation.
|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||Poor/Not considered|
This is not addressed in this lesson.
|Peer Teaching: |
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
Although there aren't thorough descriptions of real events provided, there are a number of links to graphics of actual landfills that are used in different cities.
|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||Satisfactory|
The students are able to choose how they wish to build their landfill, what materials to use and how much; however, the other elements of the lesson have been decided for them.
|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.|