Sustainability Superheroes blog
Using Decision-making and Entrepreneurial Thinking
Teachers were surprised to learn about the do’s and don’ts of recycling during the Sustainability Superheroes recycling workshop on Tuesday October 22, 2019. Vice President of Sustainability and Risk Management of Coke Florida, Erin Black, educated K-12 teachers about what can and cannot be recycled by bringing in various items like egg cartons, plastic wraps and cardboard boxes. She explained how each item should be correctly disposed of, and teachers were shocked to discover the truth. This inspired them to create their own ideas of incorporating this information in the classroom.
For example, Erin shared that plastic bottles must be thoroughly cleaned with the cap still on in order for them to be recycled. Any recyclable item that is contaminated with leftover food or beverage will not be recycled and may end up in the ocean or in a landfill where it will take years to break down. She also shared that it is best to use and recycle items that have 1’s and 2’s in their recycling symbol as these are the easiest and most likely items to be recycled properly.
With the teachers learning about the right way to recycle, they provided some of their own ideas to educate students about recycling practices. Use these ideas as inspiration for your next lesson!
Teacher 's Ideas
“Create memes with students and use PSA scripts.” - Elementary teacher
“Teach kids lessons about what can / can’t be recycled and try to get them to recycle correctly.” - Middle school teacher
“Show pictures of what the recycled items look like when broken down.” - Elementary teacher
“Do an activity showing students which items are recyclable and which are not. Use different items and let them guess.” - Elementary teacher
“Use videos from Peg and Cat to introduce recycling to students. Ask and answer questions about informational text to understand key details.” - Elementary teacher
“Organize a recycling drive with students.” - Middle school teacher
“I plan on having my students do further research and make educational posters to educate our students.” - Elementary school teacher
“Have students pick a theme for sustainability and national recycling day. They can create memes.” - High school teacher
“I will use the recycling symbol to determine where items should go. Reset, rethink, recycle.” - Elementary school teacher
“Use new tech resources for creating media for students and staff and how to help students create media.” - Elementary school teacher
“Create a lesson on what can be recycled and why it’s important to recycle.” - Elementary school teacher
“I can have my students bring in items to be recycled and teach them how to recycle properly.” - Elementary school teacher
“I will use this information in my manufacturing unit for my engineering class.” - High school teacher
The time has come where it is no longer necessary to go out to a craft store and purchase every single material needed. Why? Because almost everything you need for many craft projects can be found right in your home or classroom! Recycled arts and craft projects are perfect for fun class activities and can also educate students about sustainable practices and the importance of reusing, recycling and repurposing. Plus, you can save money by not having to purchase materials! Household items like cereal boxes, milk and egg cartons, bottles, cans and jars are just a few of the hundreds of materials that can be reused for a variety of class projects. Here are some arts and crafts you can do with students in your classrooms.
T-shirt Tote Bag
This craft project only requires two materials: an old t-shirt and scissors! Almost everyone has old t-shirts lounging around at home, which might end up being thrown away at some point. Put these unused household items to good use and make some tote bags! Plus, you get the advantage of not wasting money to go out and buy them. These bags can be used for going on road trips, the beach, grocery shopping and more.
The instructions are very minimal and require you to make a few simple cuts on the shirt. However, if you are doing this project with the little ones, make sure to supervise and assist them when using scissors.
This is a super fun project that any kid would love! The materials are very easy to find, and your students can even bring them in from home. They include empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls, extra paper or construction paper, paper plates and snack containers. The video features four different kinds of DIY musical instruments, and yes, they make cool noises too!
Aluminum Can Designs
Let your students design their very own plant pots or pencil holders by having them bring in aluminum cans from home. The materials needed vary depending on how your students may want to decorate, but this generally requires no more than four materials. All that is needed for this project is a can and some materials to design and decorate like hot glue, paint, string, glitter and/or stickers.
These beautiful paper butterflies make the perfect classroom decorations or add-ons to other projects. Only three materials are required, which include any paper that can be repurposed, pipe cleaners and a pencil. Students in all grade levels can participate in this very easy and sustainable craft project!
Potato Chip Bag to Flowers
This project only requires a few items, which are an empty bag of potato chips, a bottle cap, paper, scissors and a hot glue gun. It involves a lot of simple cuts and gluing, so it can definitely be done by most grade levels. The ending results are beautiful and shiny flowers! These could also be used as decoration in a classroom.
Your students will definitely enjoy being creative with these projects. When doing projects with your students, not every single material has to be a reusable household item. Even incorporating one or two reusable items can make a huge difference and teach students to be resourceful.
Head on over to our resources page for lesson plans, videos, activities and more for inspiration on what you can teach your students about sustainability!
Mrs. Kara Windish is a middle school teacher at Learning Gate Community School in Lutz, Florida and is passionate about teaching sustainability to her students. With her school's focus on sustainability, environmental concepts are infused across the curriculum, even in subjects like Ancient World History!
This year, during her class on ancient civilizations, the students were given a challenge in the form of a Sumerian Shark Tank. The objective was to create a service or product that the ancient citizens would use to make their lives easier using the ideas of today. Sounds a lot like the regular Shark Tank, doesn't it? Well it's not! It's even better. During Kara's Shark Tank, students were not only trying to make money. They were trying to make the world a better place. This was a green and gold Shark Tank, where students infused green sustainability practices into their business plans and still were able to see the pot of gold!
The participants were required to include a sustainability plan. They were asked to find a problem in ancient Sumer that addressed one of the seven characteristics of civilization. From there, they created a product or a business that solved one of life's problems in that time. In addition, they were required to consider the Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs) when they were creating their businesses. They had to either to create a sustainable product or describe the sustainability practices that their company will adopt.
The sharks go through a rigorous process of training, anywhere from creating their own backstory and bio to discussing current jobs and salaries. Sharks are encouraged to watch several episodes of Shark Tank so they can find their personality. Each shark focuses on a characteristic of civilization so that the entrepreneurs have a shark in mind. In Sumerian Shark Tank, characteristics can include art, religion, farming, and architecture. The entrepreneurs pitch several products that fall into those categories.
The students are coached on how to make a sixty-second pitch to the sharks. In these sixty seconds, the sharks can decide whether they want to make an offer. So, it is important to have enthusiasm, confidence, and knowledge of your product. Students create original songs, slogans, dances, and outfits to stand out to the sharks and show their business creativity. The pitch laid out the percentage of the company they are willing to part with, as well as the money they are seeking from the sharks. This mathematical part of the activity is created in conjunction with the mathematics teacher, who is teaching percentages as part of their curriculum.
Products with Sustainable Ideas
Getting the Deal
When the sharks decided if the business was worth their money and time, a deal most likely was made. Most often deals were made when students were well-prepared, gave samples to the sharks, stated their sustainability practices, and of course, for the right price!
What They Learned
One of the things students noticed is that people were more sustainable in the past. As a result of this activity, they have started to include sustainability in their mindset of what businesses should be about. Now they are better equipped to go out into the world and critique and research businesses who practice sustainability. They learned that they have control over their decisions in the world. As wise consumers, students are more aware and asking questions about the sustainable practices of businesses. The students look forward to their next adventure: Silk Road Shark Tank.