Special Online Lesson Plan
Merge the Print Version of Science World With 21st Century Tools!
Follow this digital lesson plan of "Floating Junkyard" designed especially for your interactive whiteboard.
An area of the Pacific Ocean has swirling currents that trap plastic debris. The debris is harming marine life. Readers will discover that their use of plastics and other materials has an effect on the environment.
Curriculum Area: Physics
Special Focus: Plastics
National Science Education Standards
- Grades 5-8: Structure of the Earth system
- Grades 9-12: Environmental quality
1. Before You Start
- Project the digital version of "Floating Junkyard" onto your interactive whiteboard.
- Tell students that they will be learning about an area of the Pacific Ocean that is swirling with plastic debris.
2. Kick Off the Lesson With a Discussion
Ready your students for the lesson by getting them to think about how much plastic they use and what happens to plastics that don't get recycled. Ask them:
- Approximately 100 million tons of plastic are produced each year—and we only recycle about 5 percent! What do you think happens to the rest of it?
- What are some ways that you think people could reduce the amount of plastic that they use each day?
3. Watch a Related Video
Tell students they are about to watch a video about the staggering amount of disgarded plastic that ends up in the Pacific Ocean. Click on the VideoExtra box that is located on the digital version of the article and watch the video together as a class.
4. Discuss After Watching the Video
Review your students' comprehension of the video by asking the following questions.
• What is a windrow?
• What solutions did the captain of the Alguita suggest to reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in the ocean?
5. Discuss Before Reading
Tell students that they are about to read an article about plastic pollution in our oceans, which they just learned about in the video. To connect the content from the video to the article, ask students these questions:
- How are sea birds and other marine animals affected by plastic debris in the ocean?
- Scientists have determined that about 80 percent of all the plastic debris found in the ocean originates on land. That means that finding ways to reduce plastic debris on land is essential to fixing this problem. How can consumers be persuaded to make better buying and recycling decisions? Come up with a list of incentives and penalties that you think would make a difference.
6. Read the Article
Have students turn to page 16 of their print magazines. Keep the digital version of "Floating Junkyard" onscreen in case you need to reference it during reading or if students have questions.
7. Teach With This Whiteboard Activity
- Download the "Pondering Plastics" skills sheet here. Use it either on your interactive whiteboard or as a handout to challenge students in their critical-thinking skills.
- Download the "Breaking Down Plastics" skills sheet here. Use it either on your interactive whiteboard or as a handout to give students practice at reading a chart and translating that information into a graph.
8. Engage Students in Critical Thinking
Scientists estimate that one million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic debris each year. Do you think people would reduce their use of plastic and increase the amount that is recycled if they were aware of these statistics? Why or why not? What could you do to raise awareness of how plastics can harm marine life? For more resources and activities download this issue's Teacher's Edition here.