Eco-Inquiry, an ecology curriculum for grades 5-8 helps teachers transform their classrooms into centers of ecological research.

Day 6: The Bag That Wouldn't Go Away- Performance Assessment


Students design and set up model waste disposal systems that will help biodegradable plastic bags decompose

Lesson Overview

Students will be able to: explain why biodegradable items don't always decompose after they're thrown out, and suggest ways to promote their decomposition, communicate and support their ideas using a model and written design specifications, be aware of the complexity of the garbage crisis, and the potential roles of technology and citizens in solving it.

Session 1- 40 min and Session 2 - 1hr

Sessions 1 and 2

For each student:

  • copy of the "Challenge Sheet"
  • copy of the "Design Specs Sheet"
  • copy of the "Scoring Sheet" (optional)

Session 1

For the class:

  • several non-biodegradable plastic bags
  • several biodegradable plastic bags
  • 1-liter plastic soda bottle
  • 2 cups of soil
  • watering device
  • piece of biodegradable plastic bag, approximately 13 x 20 cm

For the teacher:

  • pushpin
  • pair of sharp, pointed scissors
  • pair of plastic gloves (optional)

Session 2

For the class:

  • large bag of soil

For each group of 2-4 students:

  • 2-liter soda bottle
  • pair of scissors
  • piece of biodegradable plastic bag, approximately 13 x 20 cm
  • cup for scooping soil

For each student:

  • copy of "Portfolio Cover Sheet" (see "Eco-Inquiry's Multiple Forms of Assessment")
  • copy of "Group Work Evaluation" (see "Eco-Inquiry's Multiple Forms of Assessment")

See Lesson Resources below for further details.

NYS Standards
MST 1 - Mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design
MST 4- Physical setting, living environment and nature of science
MST 7- Problem solving using mathematics, science, and technology (working effectively, process and analyze information, presenting results)
Benchmarks for Science Literacy
5A Diversity of Life
5D Interdependence of Life
5E Flow of Matter and Energy
7D Social Trade-offs
8B Materials and Manufacturing
12C Manipulation and Observation
12D Communication Skills

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