Adrift in a Sea of Plastic Unit Plan

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Intended Grade Level(s):
Learning Goal(s):

·       Students will design 3D models using Tinkercad software.

·       Students will define the problem of plastic trash islands.

·       Students will describe possible solutions to the problem of plastic trash islands.

·       Students will research the plastic trash problem and create google slideshows the problem and how we might fix it.

·       Students will investigate different ways to build structures that both float and hold weight.

·       Students will build a model of a device that could collect plastic from the ocean.

·       Students will test the models they build.

·       Students will communicate their results from scientific inquiry to identify factors that are important to optimizing the design of the plastic collecting device.

Estimated Activity Length:
10 hours
Files Associated with this Activity:

In this unit students will investigate the phenomena of plastic trash islands floating in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The students will work to solve the problem of plastic trash islands through the engineering and design process. Using 3D printers, students will design plastic collection models powered with renewable energy. The students will begin by learning to use the scientific tools and materials we will need for the unit. This includes the software for designing 3D objects, the function of the 3D printer itself, and the 3D printing pens. Students will then learn about the problem of plastic trash islands through some videos, discussions, individual research, and a research presentation activity. Next, the students will take part in 2 or 3 mini engineering challenges to build on their prior knowledge of engineering and structures using newspaper and marshmallows. Students will then be grouped by content of their presentations to work through the engineering and design process to try and solve the problem of plastic trash islands. The students will present their solutions to class and during a showcase at the end of the unit.

Science Kit Material(s) Used:
2-Volt, 500mA Solar Modules