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Circular Economy Activity

Elementary, Middle, Secondary

Description

This activity explores the problem of waste pollution and its solution through adopting a circular economic model. Students explore the issue of solid waste in the world, with a focus on plastics. Students explore biomimicry and how humans can take inspiration from the natural world to create sustainable products and systems. Students will investigate examples of companies that incorporate sustainable business practices and develop unique products from recycled plastics. As a culminating activity, students will create a new product from recycled plastics.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

The Circular Economy Activity will inspire students to apply a remake, reuse and recycle model in creating an entirely new product from recycled materials. By participating, they will develop their critical-thinking, creativity, communication and entrepreneurship skills towards building a sustainable economy. This resource explicitly teaches the design process steps. This resource explicitly teaches the design process steps.

Strengths

  • an abundance of supporting materials
  • easy to follow lesson plan 
  • innovative and engaging project ideas
  • links are active

Weaknesses

  • there are no suggestions for learners who may have difficulties
  • there are no assessment tools 

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource would be an excellent culminating activity after a study on waste management and its impact on the Earth.  It would also be a great short unit by itself to be used in conjunction with Earth Day.

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        • Fractions and decimals are types of numbers that can represent quantities
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        • Computational fluency and flexibility with numbers extend to operations with larger (multi-digit) numbers
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        • Mixed numbers and decimal numbers represent quantities that can be decomposed into parts and wholes
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        • Computational fluency and flexibility with numbers extend to operations with integers and decimals
        • Decimals, fractions, and percents are used to represent and describe parts and wholes of numbers
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        • Analyzing data by determining averages is one way to make sense of large data sets and enables us to compare and interpret
        • Number represents, describes, and compares the quantities of ratios, rates, and percents
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Themes Addressed

  • Waste Management (3)

    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    • Solid Waste Disposal
    • Source Reduction

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good
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
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
Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Very Good

The students are able to create a solution to a waste problem by inventing a new object to save items from going to the landfill.

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 Good

With the final project, the students choose an issue of personal concern and can express their beliefs and positive vision for the future via their solution.

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 Good
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 Satisfactory
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 Very Good

The final project will help the students to develop 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

There is a lot of freedom and choice within the activities for the students.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good
  • Science
  • Numeracy
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 Very Good

The students, through the design process outlined in one of the resources, are asked to define the problem, brainstorm solutions, design a solution and create their vision.

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

There are no strategies included for learners who may have 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 Good

Students will learn about the framework and model for designing, creating, and manufacturing products using recycled materials.

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

The final project is presented as an individual project but could be modified for a group.  

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

There are no tools provided to assist with the assessment of learning.  There are product design requirements that are included in the resources that could be used to create a rubric.

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
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

The resource is not structured for the use of case studies; however, there are numerous video links included in the resources that can be used to inspire the creativity of the students and could be used as models for innovation.

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 Very Good

There is a lot of choice and freedom within the parameters of the project for the students. 

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.