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Consider Your Options

Grades: 6-8
Author: Roberta Gangl, Jill Morton, Sandy Van Natta, Mary Harris, Kathie Owens
Source: Flexible Packaging Inc. (out of business)


Abstract

Students will watch another student make a lunch to take to school. The students will make a list of all the plastic items used to make the lunch. Discussion will follow about the items used to make a complete list. Other students will make the same lunch without using plastic items.


Objectives

What should students know as a result of this lesson?

  • Students will discuss the impact of plastics on the quality of life.
  • Students will give examples of how technological advances affect the quality of life.

Materials

  • Plastic container of peanut butter
  • Plastic container of jelly
  • Loaf of bread in a plastic bag
  • Metal knife
  • ½ gallon plastic jug of milk
  • Empty plastic bottle that will hold 8 ounces with lid
  • Plastic wrap
  • Potato chips in a plastic bag
  • Carrot sticks in a plastic bag
  • Wax paper
  • Metal bowl to hold ½ gallon of milk
  • Plastic lunch bag

If using smaller groups for the elaboration:

  • Several metal bowls, several metal knives, and more wax paper.

Procedures

Engagement

Hold a class discussion of how a student living in 1940 would have made a lunch to take to school. Include the food items as well as the containers that hold food. Let students use their grandparents and parents to give them information about this activity prior to the class discussion. Make a list of the food items used and the kind of containers used as the discussion proceeds.

Assessment: Ask the students if the use of the following items is appropriate for 1940? Paper bag, plastic wrap, plastic milk jug, Hostess Cup Cake, or carrot sticks?

Exploration I

Students will watch while one student (either from the whole class or within each group) makes a lunch to take to school. Each student will make a list of all the plastic items used to make the lunch.

Assessment: The assessment is to check to see that all students made a list. The lists do not need to be complete.

Exploration II

Students will watch while one student (either from the whole class or within each group) makes a lunch without using plastic items. The group may give oral suggestions to the student making the lunch to help him/her with this task. Each student will make a list of all the items used to make the lunch.

Assessment: The assessment is to check to see that all students made a list. The lists do not need to be complete.

Explanation

Discussion will follow about the plastic items used and to compile a complete list for the class. This may be done in small groups or with the whole class. Ask the group what preparation must be done for the student to make the lunch if NO plastic is available? (Place a long sheet of wax paper on the tabletop. Put a glob the peanut butter on the table top, put a glob the jelly on the table top, pour the milk into the metal bowl, put the carrot sticks on the table top, and place the potato chips on the table top.)

Assessment: Monitor the discussion about the use of plastics for cleanliness, convenience, and safety dimensions. Have students summarize their understanding by writing a summary in their science journals.

Elaboration

Hold a discussion with the class about the types of plastics (see "Content Knowledge"). Pictures or items of each type would be useful. Please see the links on the AGPA website for more information about plastics.

Discuss and give examples of how technological advances affect the quality of life. For example, consider the making of peanut butter, mass-produced in twenty-first century large factories vs. a small-scale roasting and grinding of peanuts in the nineteenth century kitchen.

Assessment: Ask students to compare and contrast an everyday activity, like planting a garden, with the use of advanced technology (mechanized tillers) with less sophisticated technologies (hoe and rake).


Prerequisites

Students may not know much about living in 1940 and so asking grandparents will be needed.


Best Teaching Practices

  • Hands-on/Minds-on Learning
  • Authentic Problem-Based or Issue-Based Learning Inquiry Learning
  • Emphasis on Communication Skills
  • Ongoing, Embedded, Authentic Assessment

Alignment with Standards

NGSS Standards:

  • MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.

Common Core Standards:

  • RST.6-8.7 Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version ofthat information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
  • WHST.6-8.9 Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

National Standards:

  • Grades 5-8 Content Standard E Science and Technology
  • Grades 5-8 Content Standard F Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

Ohio Standards:

  • Grades 6-8 Science and Technology Benchmark A

Content Knowledge

Plastics can easily be distinguished by looking at their recycling codes, which were established in 1988 by the Society of Plastics Industry to allow recyclers to distinguish among the different types of plastics. An abbreviated list with a few examples follows:

  • polyethylene terephthalate (PETE): soda bottles, water bottles, medicine containers
  • high-density polyethylene: laundry and dish detergent bottles, milk jugs, shampoo and conditioner bottles
  • polyvinyl chloride: shower curtains, meat wraps, shrink wrap, baby bottle nipples
  • low-density polyethylene: grocery bags, sandwich bags
  • polypropylene: yogurt tubs, diapers, Tupperware
  • polystyrene: coffee cups, meat trays, packing peanuts, Styrofoam insulation
  • other

Have students research the use of plastics in everyday life. Have a discussion about renewable and nonrenewable resources within the dilema of "paper or plastic" at the grocery store. There are many dimensions to be considered when making this decision. Choosing paper may not be a better option.


Safety

Don't eat the lunches prepared since too many hands will have handled the food items. Check ahead of time for allergies, especially to peanuts. Substitute cream cheese for the peanut butter if necessary.


Applications

This activity applies to the use of plastics in their everyday lives.


Assessment

Have students make posters showing how plastics have affected the quality of our lives. One set of posters could show benefits derived from the use of plastics while another set could focus on some negative effects of plastics.


Other Considerations

Grouping Suggestions: Whole group or groups of 4-5.

Pacing/Suggested Time: One day for the activity or longer if the discussion continues into recycling, renewable and nonrenewable resources, etc.


Printable PDF Worksheets

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