Lesson Name:  Recycling and Natural Resources: The Humanity Impact

Subject Area:  Life and Earth Sciences 


Grade Level: High School to Adult Learners

Created by:  Lisa O’Brien and Lois Bugg Shadrick

State Curriculum Standards Addressed: Resource =  http://www.nextgenscience.org/

ESS3.A: Natural Resources

All forms of energy production and other resource extraction have associated economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical costs and risks as well as benefits. New technologies and social regulations can        change the balance of these factors. (HS-ESS3-2)

ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems

LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans


Course Delivery Mode Online Asynchronous

Time Allocation: Two weeks.  First week to review materials and complete first reflections/discussion.  Second week to create project and final reflection/discussion.


Number of Students: 20 students (due to groups and grading) 

Ability Level: Basic physical, life and earth science concepts


Learning Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to identify renewable and non-renewable resources and relate to the need for recycling
  2. Students will be able to describe how the process of recycling occurs (household to next manufactuer)
  3. Students will be able to discuss the pros and cons of recycling
  4. Students will be able to discuss the pros and cons of using/creating products from recycled versus virgin materials


Step- by- Step Procedure:

  1. (Due day 3 of first week) First- post to your blog the following:
  1. View the pictures  - which do you most align with and why?

  1. View the video.  Respond in the discussion board/circle about your thoughts on what was presented and any questions it raised.  Discuss possible answers/solutions with your classmates:  http://youtu.be/dAL9Xvrg3hI  (Great Pacific Garbage Patch)
  2. What are renewable and non-renewable resources?  View video, taking notes, where needed, to refer back to in support for further discussions and your project.  Natural Resources: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxHdUd_Q12Y
  3. What is recycled and are there benefits? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-ToVO-552s
  4. Recycling is not necessary and actually can harm the environment:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGdtLxE9nek
  5. What does it take to mine some of the resources we use?  View the video, taking notes, where needed, to refer back to in support for further discussions and your project.  Open Pit Mining:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WbaONJEbRE  Underground Mining: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4_tDoTvQ6A
  6. What happens to the items you put in the recycle bin?  Watch the video, taking notes, where needed, to refer back to in support for further discussions and your project.      Wastte Management Recyling process at plant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yv2WayK-eUs
  7. How are new products created from old?  Watch the video, taking notes, where needed, to refer back to in support for further discussions and your project.  Recycling process and new products:  Aluminum recycling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOpGhAdQFEY
  8. Read the article regarding the economics of recycling. http://www.cato-unbound.org/2013/06/03/michael-c-munger/recycling-can-it-be-wrong-when-it-feels-so-right
  9. Read the article on recycled versus virgin paper products.  http://smalbusinesses.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/differences-between-virgin-and-recycled-paper/

  1. Review the project rubric, meet with your group members (as assigned or created based on topic) to determine what topic you will be creating your project on, deciding on the details and who is responsible and the format in which you will be presenting your project.  Pool your ideas and support for those ideas as you start gathering information and deciding on who you can be persuasive in selling your approach. Due by end of second week.
  2. Post on the discussion board your views on your role as a steward of the land.  Support all your views with data pertaining to the pros/cons of recycling, material use and harvest, whether it is renewable or not and the economic or other aspects that support your view.
  3. Post to your blog a reflection on how your position may or may not have changed on recycling.  Support your views and discuss any information that may be a stumbling block for you.

Resources and Adaptations for Special Learners:

Resources are listed above in step by step instructions

Diverse Learners:  

Learner Products:

 Students will choose one of the following options or create their own and produce a multi-media presentation in their small group (3-6 people) to be presented to the class via Google Drive.  Possible projects include:

  1. promote better/greater recycling in the school/business environment
  2. prompt businesses to adapt procedures that use more recycled products/less natural resources
  3. educate the public on why recycling is important and how to shop smart
  4. Create a PSA promoting recycling, reducing and/or reusing resources.
  5. Create a music video, rap or spoken word piece about a topic covered this unit.

Student Assessment:

  1.  Blog Post - Week One:  Students will view the two pictures provided and describe their thoughts.  Do they agree with the pictures?  If so, which one do you most align with and why? This will begin the process of identifying what their stands are on recycling.  In later reflections, students will reflect again on their stance and use data (from the objectives) to support their views.  
  2. Discussion Board - Week One:  Students will reflect on the first video (Garbage Patch and Midway Island) in the discussion board/circle for the class.  They will generate questions to be answered, such as how did it the garbage get there, could it be recycled, why doesn’t anyone remove it, what can I/we do to decrease the garbage that ends up here?  The research to answer these questions may also become the basis for their projects.
  3. Blog Post - Week Two:  Final reflection will be to reflect on how their attitudes may have changed or stayed the same.  They must support their views based on data relevant to the type of resources, the recycle process and the cost/impact of recycling or not to the environment/public.
  4. Discussion Board - Week Two:  clearly articulate your role in Earth stewardship or state your position and defend it on recycling and/or stewardship of planet Earth.  Include in your discussion the types of resources being used/recycled, economic/environmental impact and societal issues that may play a role.


Group Work Assessment

Peer Collaboration Evaluation - Rubric

Project Assessment

 Group Project Product Rubric

Picture Sources:

Earth in Leaf:  Source: http://www.wmu.com/index.php?q=wmu/about/online-copyright-notice

Dont Recycle picture: http://howcanihelpsandiego.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/No-Recycle-No-Cry.png

Recycle Future picture:  http://ccjhs.shcsc.k12.in.us/RecyclingPage0910/RecyclingPage0910.htm