Laurel School 5th graders explore issue of ocean pollution

by Parke Treadway on February 28, 2018

Earlier this month, Laurel School’s fifth grade students engaged in a project-based learning (PBL) unit that integrated reading and writing with science and engineering, all around the issue of ocean pollution.

They wrote advocacy letters and researched ocean plastics and the garbage gyres — a system of circulating ocean currents — and used design thinking to build devices that would remove trash from the gyre modeled with a pump in a baby pool. They also debated the challenges of removing trash while reducing impact to ocean wildlife.

To put into perspective how our own community contributes to the pollution problem, students collected and weighed their trash over lunch and used proportional reasoning to estimate the amount of trash Menlo Park generates. Applying PBL to a real-world problem allows students to make the connection between what they are learning to why it’s important and how they can use their knowledge.

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