Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Plastic - A Problem and A Solution

This one is a MUST-SEE for your science teachers. It's in two parts. The first is a very moving slideshow by Chris Jordan. You may have seen some of his images before. He will create an image of, say, a human skull smoking a cigarette. But the image is actually a mosaic made up of cigarette packs equal to, in this case, the number of people who die from smoking related diseases each month in the US. Check out that image and the look at the others in the panel on the right. BE SURE to CLICK THE IMAGE to see it scroll in to reveal the details. And be sure to read the captions for each. Here's his second "Running the Numbers" collection.

Share those links with your students. No other comments. Ask them to write (a blog would be better) or post a discussion forum topic about which of those images hit home the most and why. Let them discuss it.

Then show them this poptech video from 2009 of Chris Jordan showing the photographs he took on Midway Island. It shows the decayed remains of baby albatrosses whose stomachs are full of undigested plastic. Play it through to the very end. When it's over, have them again write/blog/discuss their reaction to it. Have them suggest solutions to the problem - and maybe even vote on the best suggestion and state why they feel it's the best suggestion.

This youtube video tells us that in some parts of the ocean there are SIX pounds of plastic floating in the ocean for every ONE pound of plankton. SIX to ONE! It also talks about the situation on Midway. And there are PLENTY more resources that provide more information about the floating garbage dump. Are your students using Diigo? If so, let them find some resources and leave discussion notes on the pages they find. A great way to have them talking about YOUR content!

Then, maybe the next class period, after you've discussed the proposed solutions and talked about the problem some more, show them this amazing video of Ryan Smith whose company is converting raw sewage into clean, biodegradable plastic! Yes, that's right. Sewage into CLEAN plastic.

NOW have them write/blog/discuss about this solution and let that discussion lead you into the nature of bacteria and the fact that there still are BILLIONS of inventions/solutions still as yet to be discovered. And, a solution like this one will likely change forever how we deal with and think about plastic.

Science will be what saves this planet from our own ignorance.

Make sure that your science teachers see this. It's something that can fit into almost any science course.

This image is from Chris Jordan's website from the Midway collection.

1 comment:

Chris Bartkoski said...

Great read. I just got done watching the Chris Jordan video. I had no idea, it really makes you think.