Activity Type Video
TED-Ed

Overview

This is the story of three plastic bottles, starting from when they were manufactured using oil and gas and ending with one bottle in a landfill, one in the ocean, and one recycled into a brand new product.

Students watch the video and take notes on the different life cycles of each plastic bottle.

After working in groups to summarize one bottle’s journey, the activity ends with students thinking about the video’s message and sharing their ideas as a class. 

Materials

  • Chart paper
  • Pens
  • "What really happens to the plastic you throw away" worksheet

Instructions

Start with what you know

  1. Select a few items from the recycling bin to show students. Ask why they are in the recycling bin and not the garbage.
  2. Have students turn to a partner and discuss how they think plastic bottles affect the environment.
  3. Invite pairs to share their thoughts and jot down ideas on the board.

Watch the video

  1. Hand out copies of "What really happens to the plastic you throw away?" worksheet.
  2. Show students the video and ask them to make notes. You can stop the video after each bottle’s story so students have time to write.
  3. Briefly recap the three scenarios:
    • Bottle #1 is thrown into the trash
    • Bottle #2 ends up in the ocean
    • Bottle #3 is placed in a recycling bin

 Choose a scenario

  1. In small groups, have students choose one of the scenarios to retell.
    • Show the video again so students can add even more to their notes.
    • Have the groups visually summarize their chosen scenario in their own style for example:
      • storyboard
      • flow chart
      • comic strip
    • Everybody take a gallery walk to view each group’s summary.

Discussion

  1. Facilitate a whole class discussion about the video and its message about recycling plastic bottles.
    • What is the key message?
    • How do plastic bottles affect the environment?
    • What can we do to help the environment?


Additional Information

  • Assess student participation in the class discussion, their willingness to contribute ideas and opinions.
  • Collect the group visual summaries to assess student understanding of the video.

Plastic is made from oil and gas (natural resources that are extracted from the ground). Many plastics that are used to make every day products can be recycled, such as Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) which is used to create water, juice and pop bottles. This type of plastic can be recycled and used to make new products.

The use of plastic products can harm wildlife and enter the food chain. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch and others contain large amounts of garbage and plastic that aren’t biodegradable. Smaller marine animals contain pieces of plastic that have broken down into tiny pieces because they mistake it for food.

When fish eat plastic, it enters the food chain because larger fish eat the smaller fish (containing plastic) and we humans eat the larger fish, like tuna.

Recycling is an important way to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfill sites and the ocean. Reducing our use of plastic and switching to reusable products such as refillable water bottles also reduces the amount of plastic in the environment.

Grade 5 Science - Content

  • Local types of earth materials
  • The nature of sustainable practices around B.C.’s resources

Grade 5 Science - Curricular Competencies

Questioning and predicting
  • Demonstrate a sustained curiosity about a scientific topic or problem of personal interest.
Evaluating
  • Identify some of the assumptions in secondary sources
  • Demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of evidence
  • Identify some of the social, ethical, and environmental implications of the findings from their own and others’ investigations
Communicating
  • Communicate ideas, explanations, and processes in a variety of ways


Grade 7 Science - Content

  • Evidence of climate change over geological time and the recent impacts of humans

Grade 7 Science - Curricular Competencies

Questioning and predicting
  • Demonstrate a sustained curiosity about a scientific topic or problem of personal interest.
Evaluating
  • Demonstrate and awareness of assumptions and bias in their own work and secondary sources
  • Consider some of the social, ethical, and environmental implications of the findings from their own and others’ investigations

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