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The Polymer Schoolhouse

Grades: 3-5
Author: Susan Franz, Chris Bode, Beth Kennedy, Roberta Gangl, Michelle Deacon
Source: Hands on Plastics Jr. (internet site), Living with Plastics SEPUP, Berkley CA


Abstract

Each cooperative group will construct a shoe box diorama of a particular room of their school. This would include rooms such as classrooms, playground, cafeteria, gymnasium, principal's office, art/music rooms, etc.


Objectives

What should students know as a result of this lesson?

  • Students will identify plastics and non-plastics given a variety of objects to distinguish between plastics and non-plastics.

What should the students be able to do as a result of this lesson?

  • To construct a model that includes objects, pictures/clip art and drawings of various plastics in their school.

Materials

  • One shoe box per cooperative learning group
  • Magazines
  • Access to computer clip art/Internet
  • Objects from home
  • Scissors, crayons, glue, construction paper, craft paper, etc.
  • Chart paper markers
  • Clay
  • The Polymer Schoolhouse Evaluation (see attachment)

Procedures

Engagement

Students brainstorm objects that are located in their own classroom and list on chart paper or chalkboard.

Whole-group brainstorm various locations of the school (music room, gym, etc.) and list on chart paper (see lesson description).

Exploration

Begin to collect items needed to fill the diorama. Students may draw pictures, cut pictures from magazines, use clip art/Internet, make clay models or use objects from home to assemble their dioramas.

Bring the class together and list at the board different properties discovered about the items in the classroom as listed in Step 1. Classify those items into categories by the following properties: flexibility, rigidity, bendability, stretchability, durability, transparent vs.non-transparent items, different textures and colors (Note to teacher: Try to avoid the use of the word "plastic" as a property).

Explanation

Ask the students to explain what word would describe why their items are stretchy, flexible, bendable, etc. From this, students should be able to indentify that most of the items in their dioramas are made of plastics.

Have each student independently classify the items in their dioramas into the categories of plastic vs. non-plastic using the Polymer Schoolhouse Venn diagram. (see attachment)

Then have the cooperative groups reconvene to compare and share their completed Venn diagrams to create one group Venn diagram.

Elaboration

Assemble dioramas into a schoolhouse that can be displayed and referred to in the classroom (Means of display is at the discretion of the teacher).

Display the Venn diagrams with the Polymer Schoolhouse.

Demonstration

Bring the class together and list at the board different properties discovered about the items in the classroom as listed in Step 1. Classify those items into categories by the following properties: flexibility, rigidity, bendability, stretchability, durability, transparent vs.non-transparent items, different textures and colors (Note to teacher: Try to avoid the use of the word "plastic" as a property).

Cooperative Learning

Arrange students in cooperative groups consisting of 2-4 students.

Each group will choose from the brainstormed list of locations of the school to design.

Each group will go to their chosen location and write/draw details of items observed in that area.(optional)Have the students begin to sketch a floor plan of their area. (Older students may want to measure their actual areas in the building to design their floor plan to scale).

Distribute one shoe box to each cooperative group.

Have the students use craft/butcher paper to cover the shoe boxes.

Begin to collect items needed to fill the diorama. Students may draw pictures, cut pictures from magazines, use clip art/Internet, make clay models or use objects from home to assemble their dioramas.

Have the students return to their cooperative groups to classify and evaluate their items.

Then have the cooperative groups reconvene to compare and share their completed Venn diagrams to create one group Venn diagram.


Prerequisites

Students should collect objects related to their school environment from home.Students should be able to identify properties of objects.


Best Teaching Practices

  • Inquiry
  • Authentic Problem Learning
  • Cooperative Learning
  • Hands-on Teaching

Alignment with Standards

NGSS Standards:

  • MS-PS1-3 Gather and make sense of information to describe that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society.
  • 5-PS1-3 Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.
  • 3-5-ETS1-1 Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
  • 3-5-ETS1-2 Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • 3-5-ETS1-3 Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

National Standards:

  • Content Standards: K-4, Science as Inquiry, Content Standard A

Ohio Standards:

  • Grades 3-5 Standards: Scientific Inquiry, Benchmark A, Indicator 1, Benchmark B, Indicator 5, Benchmark C, Indicator 6

Content Knowledge

N/A


Safety

Monitor cooperative groups when visiting various locations in the building. May need adult supervision.


Applications

Students are observing, evaluating and classifying real world objects from the various rooms.


Assessment

Each cooperative group


Other Considerations

Grouping Suggestions: Group students in groups of 2-4 students each.Provide a timer for each group as they explore their chosen room of the building.

Pacing/Suggested Time: 3 one hour sessions.


Printable PDF Worksheets

Polymer Schoolhouse Evaluation Sheet