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Earth, Our Fragile Home: Waste, Methane and Climate Change

Author: Cara Wallin

School/Organization: Shawmont Elementary School

Year: 2016

Seminar: Our Earth, A Fragile Home

Grade Level: 6

Keywords: climate change, global warming, landfills, methane gas, greenhouse effect

School Subject(s): Environmental Science, Math, Science

Our Earth, our fragile home, has been experiencing many changes in its climate and environment over the past century.  The evidence in these changes can been seen by studying the weather, oceans, and our ecosystems.  Since the 1800s, our temperature has increased by an average of more than 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit.  Although there are some natural causes for this change, humans have a huge impact on this problem.  We, as humans, are releasing tons and tons of Carbon Dioxide and Methane, which are the two major greenhouse gases, also know as GHG.  These greenhouse gases (GHG) are getting trapped in our Earth’s atmosphere with nowhere to go, in return causing the temperatures and weather patterns to change. This change to our society is usually referred to as global warming, the greenhouse effect, and climate change.

Students will take two- three weeks around Earth Day to study the many aspects around this issue, in particular, what effects our waste has on climate change.  Students will practice using different instruments in order to collect and record data from the weather.  They will have to compare and contrast the weather recorded previously in history.  Once they see how much our daily weather has changed over 50 years, students will then look into the causes of our climate change, mainly focusing on what we do with our waste. By the end of this unit, students will have to work together to create possible solutions that they can incorporate to their everyday lives, in order to help our global situation.

Download Unit: 16.03.07-unit.pdf

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Full Unit Text
Rationale

Nowadays, our curriculum is so focused on only what is tested, but as a teacher, I believe it is imperative that my students are educated on what is going on around them.  Climate change is a great topic for students to study because it integrates so many subjects.  It touches on various sciences such as: environmental, biology, chemistry, geography, etc.  Besides the science standards, this topic requires students to use analytical tools and math skills to exercise their abilities to research, think, and understand complex issues.

Objectives

This unit is intended for students in Grade 6.  This sixth grade is an inclusion classroom with 28 students.  The students cycle once in the first half of the day.  One sixth grade teacher teaches literacy and social studies, while I teach math and science.  The students have a 45-minute lunch, along with a 45-minute prep in the morning, which includes the following: music, computer, gym, and School Academic Music Program.

The Objectives of the unit will include the following:

Science

  • SWBAT use tools IOT to collect and record data of the weather.
  • SWBAT access and understand long term local climate data IOT identify the effects of the climate change to our Earth.
  • SWBAT understand the general distinctions between weather and climate.
  • SWBAT understand the limitations of sending municipal waste to a landfill IOT create and innovate solutions.
  • SWBAT understand the process of waste disposal IOT identify the consequences of our landfills.
  • SWBAT develop and express an opinion on solid waste management.

 

 

Math

  • SWBAT use a set of numerical data IOT recognize a statistical question as one that anticipates variability in the data related to the question and accounts for it in the answers.
  • SWBAT understand a set of data collected IOT answer a statistical question that has a distribution which can be described by its center, spread, and overall shape.
  • SWBAT use a set of numerical data IOT recognize that a measure of center for a numerical data set summarizes all of its values with a single number.
  • SWBAT use a set of numerical data IOT recognize that a measure of variation describes how its values vary with a single number.
  • SWBAT use numerical data and apply statistical properties IOT display line plots on a number line.
  • SWBAT use numerical data and apply statistical properties IOT display histograms on a number line.
  • SWBAT use numerical data and apply statistical properties IOT display box-and- whisker plots on a number line.
  • SWBAT report the number of observations IOT summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context.
  • SWBAT give quantitative measures of center (median and/or mean) IOT summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context.
  • SWBAT give quantitative measures of variability (range, interquartile range and/or mean absolute deviation) IOT summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context.
  • SWBAT describe any overall pattern and any striking deviations from the overall pattern with reference to the context in which the data were gathered IOT summarize numerical data sets.
  • SWBAT relate the choice of measures of center and variability to the shape of the data distribution IOT summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context.

This unit will take approximately two weeks.  The activities are intended to be cross- curricula, including mathematics, social studies, and science.

Strategies

This unit will contain age- appropriate activities that will be included cross- curricular in both science and mathematics.  Lessons will be differentiated to meet IEP learning goals and reach every student.  Students will access a wide variety of sources, including web, text, videos, and art in order for students to get a deeper understanding of the difference between weather and climate and the effects that it has on our earth.   Students will do research and hands-on activities to help them better understand these concepts, both mathematically and scientifically.  Hopefully, with these strategies, they will also be able to apply their new found knowledge to innovate ways that they can help protect our Earth now and for their future.

Blended Learning

As educators teaching students in the 21st century, it is imperative that we incorporate technology in their learning environment and experiences.  In a blended learning environment, students will learn partially through face- to- face instruction and the other part will allow students to complete or research necessary items through their own navigation of online media.  Students will be given guidelines and general timelines to complete the task at hand, but they will also have some control of how they go about completing the task.

Journal Reflections

Within this two-week curriculum unit, students will engage in journaling.  At the beginning of every class, students will be given a picture, it could be of a landfill, and animal who lives in the arctic, different mines, etc.  Each journal will include a brief and general description, along with prompts and questions to help guide the students in creating their own thoughts and opinions.  The students will be given five to ten minutes to write freely in response to the prompt.  This strategy allows students to integrate the knowledge they have learned in previous classes about the climate change, as well as the knowledge the students have attained from their day-to- day life.  Journaling helps document the students’ growth throughout the curriculum unit and it will allow students to record questions or interesting facts.  Setting this activity at the beginning of each lesson ensures that the students are reflecting and focusing on the topic at hand, so that they are ready for the lesson ahead.

Choice Boards

One of my main objectives as a teacher is to encourage and guide students to become independent learners.  Students need to take ownership of their learning process and the activities they complete.  Choice boards are an excellent strategy, which gives the students an active role in their learning by giving the student options.  For a choice board, the teacher first has to determine the objective.  Once the objective and purpose have been established, the teacher will choose activities, which help reach the outcome of the designated objective.  There should be a wide variety of activities that will inspire the many different types of learners within the classroom.  The choices will then be visually represented to the students, whether in words, or by examples.  Students will then be given the direction to choose one, or more than one activity that is consistent with their needs.  With this strategy, it allows students to choose a project or activity that they are interested in, which will result in a better product and comprehension.

Differentiation

In a classroom there are many types of learners.  Each student comes to class with different cultural backgrounds, academic backgrounds, interests, learning styles, etc.  It is important to differentiate the content, instruction, and student products in order to ensure the success of all students.  Differentiation is the matching of appropriately challenging curriculum and instruction with a student’s ability, interests, and learning styles through a variety of activities, strategies, and material (“Differentiation”). In this curriculum unit, all students will be learning the same content, but each student’s needs will be addressed throughout the unit.  Students will show their understanding in a variety of ways that is personal to their needs.  Lessons will ensure to challenge students through tiered activities and higher order questioning.  With planning, differentiation will help each child accelerate as a life long learner, while reaching the goal of each objective for the unit.

Comparing and Contrasting (Venn Diagrams)

This unit focuses on the changes that our Earth has undergone from the past to the present.  Using the strategy of comparing and contrasting will encourage students to identify the similarities and differences of our climate from 100 years ago to today.  Students will be able to classify the information being taught, which will help them recognize what the past and present have in common, along with pinpointing what is different.  Students will be looking at both statistics, which will include sea level, temperature, emissions, etc.  Having students classify the similarities and differences will help them think deeper as to what is causing these changes and how we might be able to stop them.

Share- Alouds

Classroom Activities

Lesson 1: Understanding the difference between climate and weather

Time:  One 45- minute social studies/science block

Objectives:

  1. SWBAT understand the general distinctions between weather and climate.
  2. SWBAT use tools IOT collect and record data of the weather.

Materials:

Procedure:

  1. At the beginning of the lesson, hand students an index card. Allow students a few minutes to write down everything that they know about weather on one side of the index card and climate on the other side.  (By 6th grade, students have learned the contents of weather and climate in various grades, so it should be prior knowledge.) Students will then share aloud with their group about their previous knowledge.  Students will be able to remind one another about the key details they remember of climate and weather.
  2. Show video to class.
  3. As a class, we will share the important facts from the video create notes.
  4. In partners, students will then complete a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the similarities and differences of weather and climate.
  5. Students will come to the board and create a class Venn Diagram as an anchor chart throughout the unit.

Lesson 2: Landfills and Waste Management:  Recycle, Reuse, or Place in a Landfill

Time: One 45- minute social studies/science block

Objectives:

  1. SWBAT understand the process of waste disposal IOT identify the consequences of our landfills.
  2. SWBAT understand the limitations of sending municipal waste to a landfill IOT create and innovate solutions.
  3. SWBAT develop and express an opinion on solid waste management.

Materials:

  • Journal 1 (Appendix A)
  • Video Link- Kids Talking Trash https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9iNQucNaGI
  • Pre-made waste basket for each group of students. (Example: In a small bin, place a variety of items that are disposed of on a regular basis.  These items could include water bottles, paper, wrappers, paper towels, etc.)

Procedure: Students will start the lesson with a reflection journal.  This journal has a list of items found in landfills and how long it takes them to decompose.  After a brief discussion with the journal, each group of students will be given a pre-made waste basket with commonly disposed of items.  As a group, students will dig through the trash and make a list of the items they found.  Once the items are identified, students will then sort through the items and decide whether the items should be recycled, reused, or placed in a landfill.

Lesson 3: Landfills and Waste Management

Time: One 45- minute social studies/ science block

Objectives:

  1. SWBAT understand the process of waste disposal IOT identify the consequences of our landfills.
  2. SWBAT understand the limitations of sending municipal waste to a landfill IOT create and innovate solutions.
  3. SWBAT develop and express an opinion on solid waste management.

Materials:

Procedure: Students will complete journal reflection and share their thoughts on the picture.  Students will watch a short video clip how landfills work.


 

Lesson 4: Landfills

Time: Two 45- minute social studies/science block

Objectives:

  1. SWBAT understand the process of waste disposal IOT identify the consequences of our landfills.
  2. SWBAT understand the limitations of sending municipal waste to a landfill IOT create and innovate solutions.
  3. SWBAT develop and express an opinion on solid waste management.

 

Materials:

  • Journal 4 (Appendix A)
  • Trash bags
  • Masking Tape/ Duct Tape
  • Water
  • Measuring Cups

Procedure: Students will start the lesson with a journal reflection.  Students will use the knowledge they have learned thus far to come up with reasons as to why ice is diminishing by 287 billion metric tons per year.  Students will create a sequence chart/ timeline of the processes of landfills.

Day 1: Students can watch the following video: http://study.com/academy/lesson/sanitary-landfills-definition-and-issues.html

After watching the video, there is an interactive quiz/ questions that they can answer independently or collectively.  Will show the set- up of landfill and the types of pollution it creates.

Day 2: Water Pollution: Hands- On Activity: In the previous lesson, students will have watched a video on landfills.  In this activity, students will gain a deeper knowledge of the problems with landfills by creating their own landfill liner.  You may groups students together, with as many or as little students as you may like.  Each group will be given a trash bag and duct tape. Instruct them to make a plastic bag that can hold one cup of water without leaking. Ask the students to think about why a bag might leak while making their designs.  To test the bags, have one student hold the bag over a large beaker or measuring cup. Have the teacher or another student pour exactly one cup of water into the constructed plastic bag. Time one minute and then measure the water that leaked through the bag. Have students record their data on paper or on the board. Ask students to imagine trying to design the same type of liner for a landfill the size of a football field or larger. Would it leak?  You can make this into a class competition.

Lesson 5: Project

Time: Approximately 1 week (5 90- minute math blocks)

Objectives:

  1. SWBAT collect quantitative data IOT identify the different effects of climate change.
  2. SWBAT understand a set of data collected IOT answer statistical question that has a distribution which can be described by its center, spread, and overall shape.
  3. SWBAT use a set of numerical data IOT recognize that a measure of center for a numerical data set summarizes all of its values with single number.
  4. SWBAT use numerical data and apply statistical properties IOT display histograms on a number line.
  5. SWBAT report the number of observations IOT summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context.
  6. SWBAT give quantitative measures of center (mean and/or median) IOT summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context.

Materials:

  • Climate Change Project and Rubric (Appendix C)
  • Computers and Internet Access (Website: https://www.wunderground.com/history/)
  • Calculators
  • Map of the United States
  • Map of the World
  • Graph Paper
  • Data Worksheet (Appendix D)
  • Journal 5 (Appendix A)

Procedure: This is a project that will integrate math and social studies.  Students will be able to follow the criteria located on the Climate Change outline located in Appendix D.  Students will use the website listed above to collect the temperature for a specific location over the past 50 years.  With this data, students will be able to find the mean, median, and mode.  With this information they will be able to create line plots and histograms and will be able to write quantitative analysis.

Annotated Bibliography

Crashcoursekids. “Weather vs. Climate: Crash Course Kids #28.1.”YouTube. YouTube, 23 Sept. 2015. Web. 03 May 2016.

  • Great video clip that will help students remember the difference between weather and climate.

 

“Historical Weather.” Weather History & Data Archive. Web. 17 June 2016.

  • This website will allow students to find the weather for various dates, years, and locations for their climate project.

 

“Landfills And The Environmental Effects.” Live Life Green. 6 Aug. 2009. Web. 03 May 2016.

  • This is a great summary of what landfills are the problems with the pollution that they create. It also starts the discuss

 

“Newsletter.” Peace Research 37.1 (2005): 1-10. JSTOR. Web. 03 May 2016.

  • This is a great summary with specific details about what climate change is and the various reasons that it is occurring.

 

PearsonBio. “Video Field Trip – Landfill.” YouTube. YouTube, 24 Mar. 2010. Web. 03 May 2016.

  • Since field trips aren’t always the easiest to plan, this video will allow students to feel like they are getting a personal tour on how landfills work.

 

“Public Health, Safety, and the Environment.” Frequent Questions:. Web. 03 May 2016.

  • This is a great cite that answers a wide variety of questions. This can be used to answer your questions or the questions your students might have.

 

“Quizlet.” Climate Change Vocabulary Flashcards. Web. 17 June 2016.

  • Interactive website with important terms and their definitions. Definitions are written, but can also be audio.

 

RecycleStuffCDR. “Kids Talkin’ Trash (Part 1 of 2).” YouTube. YouTube, 05 July 2011. Web. 03 May 2016.

  • This is a video made my students that talks about reusing, recycling, and reducing waste.

 

“Sanitary Landfills.” Study. Web. 17 June 2016.

  • Great video on how landforms work and the types of pollution that is created. There are interactive questions on line for students to answer when completed.

Appendix

Appendix A

Name ___________________________________               Date ___________________

Journal 1

 

Item Years to Decompose Item Years to Decompose
Glass Bottle 1 million years Foam cups 50 years
Aluminum Can 80- 200 years Plastic Bag 10- 20 years
Plastic Bottle 450 years Paper Towel 2-4 weeks
Tire 80 years Plywood 1-3 years
Milk Carton 3 Months Apple Core 2 months
Newspaper 6 weeks Orange/ Banana Peel 2-5 weeks
Leather 50 years Paper 2- 5 months

 

 

Think about what you dispose (throw away) of each and every day then think of what you actually put in recycling bins.  Take a look at the table and write a reflection which will incorporate what surprises you? What concerns do you have?  What questions do you have? ________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

Name ___________________________________               Date __________________

Journal 2

John Moore / Getty Images

 

 

The average person throws away 4.5 pounds of trash a day. This is a picture of a landfill that is located in Nogales Landfill, Mexico.  Take a good look at the different items you can see in the landfill and reflect on the table form yesterday’s journal with how long it takes certain items to decompose.  Write a reflection on your thoughts, opinions, concerns, etc.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Name __________________________________     Date ____________________

Journal 3

Landfills that do not cover their waste with a daily cover, such as soil, allows the decomposition of material to get extremely hot and cause spontaneous combustion.  These fires that occur in landfills can last months to even years and take millions of dollars to extinguish.   What health and environmental concerns do you think this brings about?

 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Name ___________________________________   Date _________________________

Journal 4

Ice on land is diminishing by 287 billion metric tons per year.  Think about the videos and discussions we have had.  What do you believe is one of the root causes of this?

 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Name ____________________________________             Date _________________

Journal 5

This is a picture of a recycling plant.  Knowing that paper takes 2-5 months to decompose, plastic bottles take roughly 450 years to decompose and aluminum cans take between 80- 200 years to decompose. Why is it so important that we take recycling more serious? ________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

______________________________________________________________________

 

Name ____________________________________ Date _______________________

Journal 5

Landfill gas is made of about 50% methane gas.  Engineers have come up with a solution of our pollution from both landfills and burning fossil fuels.  They have created a landfill that now traps the methane gas from the landfill and is burned to generate electricity.  How or why is this helpful in tackling climate change?  What else could we do?  Think outside of the box.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Appendix B

Venn Diagram

Appendix C

Weather and Climate Project

Name___________________________________  Date _________________________

 

SWBAT collect quantitative data IOT identify the different effects of climate change.

 

  1. You will gain a greater understanding of weather and climate through an investigative inquiry based study of two cities. One city must be in the Northern Hemisphere. The second city must be in the Southern Hemisphere.

North Hemisphere City, State, Country __________________________________________________________________

Southern Hemisphere City, State, Country

__________________________________________________________________

 

  1. Once you have identified your two cities, collect the daily mean temperature for one specific day within every month of every year for the past 60 years. (Start with January ____, 1955 – January 2015)

 

Hint: What is the date of your birth?  (For example, my birthday is December 20, therefore pick the 20th as the date. I would look up January 20, 1955, February 20, 1955, March 20, 1955…. January 20, 2015)

__________________________

 

On the attached table, please list the temperatures for the date of each month of each year for the past 60 years.

 

  1. Use the data for each year, which incorporates 12 months, to find the mean, median, and mode. (12 months for the year of 1955- Find the mean, median, and mode for 1955)

 

  1. Quantitative Analysis- Analyze your full data collection to determine if you can observe the occurrence of climate change. You will need to write a one to two paragraph supporting your claim that climate change is occurring or that climate change is not occurring.  You must support your analysis with at least 5 quantitative descriptions.

 

  1. In two separate paragraphs, fully describe the climate of the two cities that you chose. Explain why your city has a particular climate. Describe the location of your two chosen cities in relation to the equator or the North/ South Pole.

 

  1. Describe one to two natural disasters that have occurred in or around your cities in the past 10 years. Describe all aspects of the natural disaster.  Include the damage of the land/ property and the lives lost.

 

  1. Complete a box-and-whisker plot for one month of your temperature data for one city that you chose. (Choose the month that you were born.)

Month you were born is __________________________

City you chose is __________________________

 

  1. Make a stem- and- leaf plot for the month before your birthday month for the same city you chose.

Month before your birthday is _________________________

 

  1. Make a line graph for the month after your birthday month for the same city you chose.

The month after your birthday is _________________________

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rubric for Weather and Climate Project

 

Name of Student _________________________

City, State, Country _______________________________________________

 

Data /15
Mean, Median, and Mode /10
Quantitative Analysis /10
Climate Information /10
Natural Disasters /10
Box- and- Whiskers /15
Line Graphs /15
Stem- and- Leaf Plots /15

 

 

Comments _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Appendix D

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

 

 

 

 

January
February
March
April
May
June
 July
August
September
October
November
December

Standards

Math

  • CC.2.1.6.E.2 Identify and choose appropriate processes to compute fluently with multi-digit numbers.
  • CC.2.1.6.E.4 Apply and extend previous understandings of numbers to the system of rational numbers.
  • CC.2.4.6.B.1 Demonstrate an understanding of statistical variability by displaying, analyzing, and summarizing distributions.

Science

  • 3.3.4.A5. Describe basic weather elements. Identify weather patterns over time.
  • 3.3.5.A5. Differentiate between weather and climate. Explain how the cycling of water, both in and out of the atmosphere, has an effect on climate.
  • 3-ESS2-2. Obtain and combine information to describe climates in different regions of the world.
  • MS-ESS3-5. Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
  • MS-ESS2-5. Collect data to provide evidence for how the motions and complex interactions of air masses results in changes in weather conditions.