I just watched a fascinating PBS video on how much plastic is in the ocean. Counting down to this year’s Earth Day on April 22nd, the video got me thinking about how teachers can help students become responsible consumers as well as future caretakers of our earth!

Take plastic waste, for instance. Do you realize that plastics are one of the worst pollutants in our world today? From poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our waste streams and landfills, the exponential growth of plastics is now threatening the very survival of our planet!

In response, this year’s Earth Day is devoted to educating people about the problem of plastic pollution! As teachers, we can use this opportunity to inspire student interest in this problem and hopefully effect fundamental changes in human attitudes and behaviors about plastics!

Where to begin? I suggest you check out the main site about Earth Day: Earth Day Network (EDN) with its goals of ending single-use plastics, promoting alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, promoting 100 percent recycling of plastics, calling for corporate and government accountability, and changing human behavior concerning plastics. EDN also offers a web-based resource for K- 12th-grade students called the Climate Education Week Toolkit that includes a range of lesson plans, and educational activities focused on the issue of Plastic Pollution. Climate Education week begins April 16th and leads up to Earth Day on April 22nd.

Here’s another idea: each year Skype in the Classroom celebrates our planet throughout April in honor of Earth Day by inviting educators from around the world to connect their students globally to make the impact locally and learn about conservation, climate change, and ecology from experts. Have your students share ideas with students from around the world about solving plastic pollution problems!

Ever since 1970, Earth Day has become an annual global event, bringing together over 1 billion people in 192 countries to spread awareness about caring for the earth! I also hope you encourage your students to investigate other ways that humans impact the earth’s environment, starting with the RAFT Design Challenge: Reduce your Impact on the Environment! Have an Inspirational 2018 Earth Day Everyone!
Written by Jeanne Lazzarini, RAFT Math Coach/Curriculum Writer

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