Currently at my school we are working on a unit to teach students about garbage and recycling. Here are few of my brainstorm ideas on how we might go about it... I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback:
I have a few ideas for math lessons.
1. I'm sure we can do a lot with the Gone Tomorrow video with statistics: (I'll have to watch the video a 3rd time to make sure I got these right)
a. Only 5% of all plastic is recycled
b. Plastic is produced at 7 times the rate that it is recycled
c. Corporation produce 70 times the amount of waste as individuals
We could follow this grim video up with a few light hearted videos: Simpsons: Trash of the Titans and The Lorax. I have the Lorax and would be happy to buy Gone Tomorrow (I sent you the link before for the video on-line) and Simpson Season 9 DVDs.
2. Recyclables Mobile
Students should do a recycles scavenger hunt in order to solve and display visually their answer to:
1. How many cups are in one gallon? or How many ounces are in one gallon? They could collect 1 gallon, connect that to 4 containers that are size one quart, on each quart hang two pint size objects, on each pint two cups size objects. They could collect these items form their recycling at home and start to display them. We could simultaneously be teaching kids about recycling at home and give them decals etc to set up their own home recycling system. This might inspire students to want to create a school recycling program... we can talk more about this.
3. Calculate waste
I sent the following letter to the mayor on the city's website. The response below the letter was from Mary Most from NYC Dept. of Sanitation's Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse & Recycling. You should contact her if you are interested in starting a school recycling program. She can provide you with information and some supplies, including decals, poster, curriculum, videos, and more. She is also the person you will work with on your Golden Apple Awards entry if you start a program. She recommends that instead of writing to the Mayor, since she will in term receive the letter and have to respond to it, that we send all letters to Chancellor Klein, since the problem is within the DOE and he's responsible for enforcing his own regulations with regard to recycling (check out Coquille's blog for a copy on the Chancellor's regulations on recycling in the DOE).
-----------------------------My Letter to the Mayor-----------------------------
As a New York City teacher fellow who started and ran a recycling program in a Bedford-Styvesant middle school for two years. I face the issues discussed by the recent Post article: “IL'LITTER'ATE SCHOOLS FLUNK THEIR RECYCLING” on a daily basis.
I have a few questions for you:
1. Why doesn’t the city promote recycling?
2. Is the city’s garbage situation at a crisis level yet? When will it be?
3. How much garbage does the city generate?
4. Where does all of our the garbage go?
5. How much of this waste is reusable and/or recyclable?
6. What will happen if we keep throwing all of these recyclable items away?
7. Can the city or school generate some kind of income from recycling?
8. Is recycling cost effective?
9. When will we be so overwhelmed with garbage we won’t have anywhere else to put it? What will happen then?
10. Why don’t people realize that this is an inevitable crisis that must and can be averted through a wide-spread reduce, reuse, and recycling effort?
Who and what is the School Recycling Action Committee?
Coquille and I (Micki AKA mathjosi) are both crazy Oregon hippie chicks who came to NYC to find experience in the big city. Coming for a very green town of Eugene, Oregon, we were stunned and amazed by the amount of waste and lack of environmental awareness that we'd become accustomed to. Both NYC Teaching Fellows (me - teaching middle school math, she teaching bilingual elementary), we were horrified by the dismal sight of dirty old blue recycling bins in every classroom being used only for garbage, no thought or mention of recycling, littered cafeterias, hallways, and classrooms.... not to mention neighborhoods and students who found it common place to throw trash on the sidewalks, streets, on the floor, in the desks, and even out the window. We inspired each other to take on the volunteer role of recycling coordinator in addition to our demanding teacher duties in tough Brooklyn schools. I started and ran my program for two years in a shared building with two other schools, while she simultaneously did the same at her elementary school, which occupied her entire building. We shared ideas about how to work with our custodians, acquire the necessary bins, train our students with assemblies, held promotional contests, and contacted Sanitation constantly about the problems we were experiencing with their collection which is infrequent at best or sometimes doesn't happen for weeks on end while bags of recycables become litter all over the side walk and streets.
Finally we documented the whole process to present to New York City's Department of
Last night a few of us braved the cold, rain, noise and crowds to meet up at the Village Pour House for our School Recycling Action Committee Meeting.
We had a huge table in the back, but it was super noisy and almost impossible to hear people. Seven people were in attendance: Coquille, Chong, Dave, Micki, Sarah, John, and Marie. We tried our best to discuss the issues at our schools and the individual interests. Coquille shared NYC RRR curriculum kit from the Department of Sanitation (order one for yourself), her Golden Apple Award binder, and copies of the Post article and the NYC DOE regulations on recycling, which states that all schools are required by law to recycle and must set up a recycling program by assigning recycling coordinators at every level: All DOE offices and schools. We know these regulations are not be followed or enforced! You can see the copies at Educating Tomorrow look under groups and then NYC School Recycling blog. We we will be this Group to post ideas about actions we can all be taking in our schools and on our computers to push our schools and the HUGE DOE to do it's job and start recycling programs.
Chong shared his work with Soul Survivors Inc. on composting programs in the city and the possibility of working with schools to institute compost training and worm bins. He is also working on the creative end on comic strips and educational materials for kids on composting. Micki expressed her interest in working with him specifically on training kids at her school since she is starting a unit of study on waste, garbage and recycling. Compost would be an excellent addition to unit and could be a very cool way to learn math and science!