Sustainability Superheroes blog
Using Decision-making and Entrepreneurial Thinking
On Thursday 9/5/19, K-12 teachers from all over Tampa Bay attended one of the many Sustainability Superheroes workshops at the USF Stavros Center, where they received training on how they can teach kids about sustainability issues our world is facing.
A crucial part of reaching sustainability is creating and encouraging a circular economy, where items are made, used and recycled. One way to accomplish this is to reuse and/or repurpose household items instead of throwing them away. For example, anyone can find plastic bottles or empty cereal boxes around the house and reuse them for a fun project or a toy. Sustainability Superheroes hosted a Toy Story-themed workshop called “From Trash to Treasure” where teachers discovered how plastic toys and their manufacturing hurt the environment and break the circular economy. The workshop was hosted by Dr. Deborah Kozdras, Chief Creative Officer of the USF Stavros Center, and Angel Danger from Hillsborough County Schools.
Teachers started by sorting and categorizing toys while discussing how their physical properties and manufacturing promote the threatening linear economy where items are made, used and disposed, which negatively affects the planet. According to the Tara Ocean Foundation, 8 million tons of plastic wash into the sea worldwide each year, and by 2050, it is predicted that plastics will outweigh fish in the ocean.
It was finally time to close the loop and start repurposing by making toys. Teachers designed and constructed their own versions of Toy Story 4 character, Forky, out of plastic bottles, forks, spoons, cups and leftover craft supplies. Using what most people call trash can actually be turned into treasure!
Teachers showed their talent and creativity in arts and crafts and were having a fantastic time. There were so many incredible variations of the Forky character, including Hurricane Dorian! (pictured below) This helped teachers gain inspiration on activities and ideas they can use with their students that are not only fun, but also teach them to get creative with their toys and use sustainable methods.
Doing activities like this with your students or children at home are essential to promoting a circular economy, which leads us to a world with less waste and healthier environments.
The USF Stavros Center has plenty more workshops coming up, so be sure to visit https://www.usf.edu/education/stavros-center/programs/ to attend and be a Sustainability Superhero! If you missed the Toy Story workshop, check out our resources page here where you can have full access to lesson plans and videos on plastic pollution and manufacturing.