Plastic Trash Issue and Density
We’ve spent the first quarter with very playful physics labs and very little big picture, heavy-duty ‘issues’, purposely. To build community and trust and reduce the fear factor inherent in physical science.
I started the density unit with the plastics problem in the oceans because what floats is what’s causing the huge problem on beaches and for the marine food chain. It’s a change of pace that has taken a couple of years to hit the right note with. Last year, for the record, we were overwhelmed with kids bringing in trash for sorting. The whole classroom – stinky and buried!
1. Socrates Cafe class discussion “What do you think about the state of the oceans?” to expose/re-activate their prior knowledge and feelings about it. Love this format because it’s so friendly and so interesting for me too. See blog post here for more deets. Fun to find out they learned quite a bit from their Take Action Projects last year – the plastic trash problem was studied by many of them because it’s so visibly tragic for animals, and because they could do trash pick ups as their direct action.
3. Plastic trash sort: This year, me, Robert (student teacher) and Karen (my next door colleague) collected trash for a week and we raided the recycle bins at school. Dumped it all on a tarp, then had kids help sort it first by bags, bottles, wrappers etc., then by plastic resin type. Fun and quick. See the gallery for pics. The student sheet is in “1. Plastics in our Lives” link above.
4. Collaborative Google Doc presentation on the Life Cycle of Plastic. See gallery pics and here’s the student sheet for this: 2. Life Cycle of Plastic
I’m going to post separately on the grrrr experience of using Google Docs for the first time. Worth it. In the end. But with tips to maybe make it a little more entertaining for you than it was for me.
5. More formal density labs – how to measure volume, mass and density accurately and precisely. I’ll share these as we do them.
Entry filed under: Density, Energy Opportunities Project, Environmental Education, Physics Topics, TAP Curriculum. Tags: 8th grade science, lab sheets, lesson plans, physical science lab, plastic pollution, plastics.