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Design a Biodegradable Product

Students will conduct research to learn about biodegradable materials and the products they can be used to create. They will sketch a design of one product and write a brief biography touting its eco-friendly traits.

PROCESS:

  1. As a class, discuss what it means for a product to be eco-friendly. (Eco-friendly products do not harm the environment during production, use or disposal.) Challenge students to identify a variety of eco-friendly traits. (reusable, recyclable, energy efficient, biodegradable, etc.)
  2. From that list, focus on the benefits of creating biodegradable products. Guide the class to understand that biodegradable products are made from natural materials. Over time, they are reabsorbed into the environment.
  3. Instruct students to conduct research to learn about biodegradable materials. What are they made from? What can they make? What nonbiodegradable materials do they replace?
  4. Challenge students to use what they learned to design their own biodegradable product. Give students time to create a sketch a design of their product. Then have them write a brief "bio" that touts their product's eco-friendly traits.

ASSESSMENT:

Invite students to share their sketches and bios with the class. Encourage classmates to discuss the merits of each product. Challenge them to identify which nonbiodegradable products each new product would replace.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:

Grades 3-4:
Investigate biodegradable materials as a class. Encourage students to share what they learned. Then have students brainstorm ideas for various products that could be made from biodegradable materials. Select one product from the list. Encourage each student to sketch a design of the product. As a class, write a brief biography that touts the product's eco-friendly traits.
Grades 5-6:
Divide the class into small groups. Have groups conduct research to learn more about biodegradable materials. Then instruct them to brainstorm a list of products that could be made from a biodegradable material and choose one product from their list. Give groups time to sketch a design of their products and write a brief biography touting its eco-friendly traits.
Grades 7-8:
Divide the class into pairs. Have partners conduct research to learn more about biodegradable materials. Then instruct each pair to think of a product that could be made from a biodegradable material. Have partners sketch a design of their products. Give them time to write a brief biography touting its eco-friendly traits. In their biographies, challenge students to identify a nonbiodegradable product that their product could replace.
Grades 9-10:
Assign each student a partner. Encourage pairs to search the Internet for information on biodegradable materials. Instruct them to select one biodegradable material that could be used to create a variety of eco-friendly products. Then have each partner choose a different product and sketch a design of that product. Encourage partners to work together to write a brief biography that touts the eco-friendly benefits of the material they selected. Challenge them to incorporate both of their products into the biography to show how the material could be used in different ways.