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Plastic Waste to Consumer Goods

Secondary

Description

Students will explore ways in which plastic waste can be repurposed to create consumer goods. They will complete a make-remake activity where they will go through a design challenge to make something new out of recycled plastic.

The lesson consists of three steps:

Step 1- Students discuss what can be made out of discarded plastics used in their daily lives.

Step 2 - Students identify categories of plastic consumer goods that  may be re-purposed

Step 3 - Students complete a design challenge for remaking a consumer good out of discarded plastic

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

Students have an opportunity to enhance those skills associated with problem solving and creativity.

Strengths

The lesson deals with a critical issue that is both local and global and engages the student by appealing to their creative and imaginative talents. The necessary supporting pieces are there that better assure the success of the objectives outlined in the lesson.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

The lesson may be used in combination with two other resources by the developers. The others focus on who is producing the plastics and what various levels of government are doing in response.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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        • Environmental Science 12: Living sustainably supports the well-being of self, community, and Earth.
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Themes Addressed

  • Waste Management (2)

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

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

The lesson assumes that our current use of plastics is having a serious impact on the environment. It outlines various possible reponses to this threat and concludes by inviting students to complete a design challenge of making or remaking a consumer good out of discarded plastics. 

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 Satisfactory

The focus of the lesson is on repurposing discarded plastic waste to create new products. As such, it should be approached as part of a larger investigation of our plastic use. The role of and impact of our use of plastics has economic, social and environmental implications and these should be addressed using other lessons before investigating the topic of making plastic waste into consumer goods. 

Another approach is to represent the repurposing of plastics as an example of the circular economy and this would  lead naturally to discussion of the economic, social and environmental elements involved.

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 Good

The lesson first draws student attention to the highly sophisticated and technologically advanced clean-up efforts happening around the world and outlines the downcycling or upcyling options for dealing with the recovered plastic. It then focuses on upcycling and offers a number of examples of schools and companies who have repurposed plastics.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Very Good

The lesson moves from a student consideration of how discarded plastic can be used in our daily lives to completing a design challenge for making a consumer good out of discarded plastic of their choosing.

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 Satisfactory

While not explicit in the lesson, any discussion of single-use plastic should raise issues related to our individual and collective responsibility to the planet and all living things.

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 Good

Although the focus of the lesson is on repurposing discarded plastic, this is hopefully part of a piece in which the impact of used plastics on the planet is a major component. The impact of discarded plastic on the planet provides the rationale for this exercise in repurposing that waste.

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

Although not prescribed, there is an opportunity for the teacher to initiate a project with the students such as that undertaken by the Collingwood School's Ecobricks Project, which is profiled in the lesson.

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 Good

The lesson serves to help students understand the gravity of the current crisis in our use of plastics and to contribute to a zero single use plastic 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 Good

The lesson concludes with students completing a design challenge in which they make or remake a consumer good out of discarded plastic.  Learners can create anything they can think of that can be used as a consumer good. 

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

While not addressed directly in the lesson plan, teachers have the option of investigating with students the economics of plastic use and re-use (Economics), the life span of plastics (Chemistry, Science and Technology), the impact of plastic on the environment (Environmental Science), Individual and government reposibility in responding to the harm done by plastics (Political Science, Citizenship).

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

Students are confronted with the question of what is to be done with plastic waste that has been recovered. The lesson asks them to respond to that challenge by creating a consumer good of some readiliy available discarded plastic.

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 Satisfactory

The resource includes a number of effective videos that illustrate what others are doing in terms of collecting and re-using plastic waste. Developing their own product from discarded waste will engage their creative talents and add a tactile element to the learning.

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 students are asked to create, share and evaluate a product design of their own from discarded plastic.

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 design of a consumer good from discarded plastic can be done as an individual or shared exercise.

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

The designs created by students can be evaluated in terms of their creativity and practicality.

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 may be expected to benefit from learning about the designs created by their classmates.

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 Good

The lesson includes a number of examples of what others are doing in terms of repurposing discarded plastic and the students' own designs add to that list of case studies.

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 teacher directs the lesson in terms of outlining the problem and possible solution but each student is required to create their own solution to the problem by their design.

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.