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5th Graders Calculate the Impact of their Recycling

In Social Studies, 5th Graders have been learning about how the natural environment shapes civilizations, as well as how civilizations impact the natural environment. This work was enriched by their learning in Science class, where students have been examining the increasingly dire problem of plastic pollution in the ocean and exploring how these plastics affect both marine ecosystems and humans.

As students considered how their own actions relate to the problem of plastic pollution, they began a practice of discarding their empty snack bags in a Zero Waste Box from TerraCycle instead of throwing them away, knowing that items thrown in the trash would ultimately end up in a landfill. And last week, 5th Graders gathered in the courtyard to discover what they had accumulated in those months of diligent collection.

With too many bags to count individually, students worked together to devise a plan for applying mathematical reasoning and calculation to determine the number of snack bags collected. Small groups of students weighed ten bags, then used the collected data to determine the average weight of ten bags. From there, the whole grade used division to figure out the number of bags based on the total weight – and were surprised and proud to find that together they had kept over 1000 bags out of landfills! Way to go, 5th Graders!