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Science Lesson Plan

Created by Sarah Macholdt, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
Description Core Decisions of Lesson Design
In this lesson students will learn about trash and where it goes after it leaves their hands.
They will also think about ways in which resources can be reused and recycled. Some practices
that I hope to address in this lesson are asking questions, as well as obtaining, evaluating, and
communicating information. I should be able to address these practices in the lesson. In terms of
cross cutting concepts, I plan to address cause and effect, systems and system models, energy
and matter, and sustainability and change.
My own learning goals for my students are straightforward. I would like students to be able to
begin to think about the fact that their trash has to go somewhere. I know that this is something
about which I myself had not thought before I began to do research for this lesson. I would also
like them to begin to think about ways in which recycling can create new products from waste. I
also would like to get students thinking about ways in which they can help out with recycling
(hence the video on shoe recycling.) I think that getting students musing on something they
probably take for granted (like trash and recycling) will be useful for their learning about this
subject. I also think that learning about one thing that they take for granted might open their eyes
to other scientific aspects of their lives that they take for granted. My main content goal is for
students to be able to articulate what happens to their trash. My main process goal is to make
sure that I stay within my proposed units of time for my lesson plan.
One statement that I kept thinking about in designing my lesson plan was the idea that I
did not have to re-invent the wheel to create a good final product. Therefore, I looked at some
media that already existed about trash and recycling. I include two very short videos- one about
what happens to food waste after it leaves the plate, and the other about how sneakers can be
recycled to make new products. My underlying methods rely on student curiosity about this
issue. I hope that the facts and activities that I have provided will encourage students to seek out
more information about this topic on their own. I think that this connects well to the inquiry-style
of teaching that GSE stresses.
I selected this topic because it was something that I had thought about and wanted to
learn more about. I had hoped that my students would feel the same way. I hope that I will be
opening their minds to a new topic that they had never thought about before. My students get no
science instruction at all in their classroom, and I dont want to turn them off to science by doing
any experiments that are too technical (if they had had previous experience with science, I would
have definitely felt more confident in branching out into more complicated areas of
My focusing question is about how mindset can be used to encourage student learning. I
want students to become interested in a topic that is relevant to their lives, but is not dry.
Thinking about the cycle that trash goes through will hopefully catch their attention, and
reinforce the idea that science can and should be interesting and fun. I also hope that this small
group of students will give them the opportunity to engage and ask questions more than they are
now able to in their full class of thirty-five students.

Bergey, Nancylee 11/10/16 5:27 PM

Comment: This meant a practice goal for the
students. You covered it above. I see goals
from Practices and Cross-Cutting Concepts
above but none from the Disciplinary Core
Ideas section.
Bergey, Nancylee 11/10/16 5:30 PM
Comment: So take this sentence out!

Goals/ Objectives
SWBAT explain what happens to their trash after they throw it away. They will also be able to
explain one way that waste can be recycled.
Standards (and Assessment Anchors, if applicable)
Practices for K-12 Science Classrooms standard:
o Asking questions (for science) and defining problems
o Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
Cross Cutting Concepts:
o Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation. Events have causes, sometimes
simple, sometimes multifaceted. A major activity of science is investigating and
explaining causal relationships and the mechanisms by which they are mediated. Such
mechanisms can then be tested across given contexts and used to predict and explain
events in new contexts.
o Systems and system models. Defining the system under studyspecifying its
boundaries and making explicit a model of that systemprovides tools for
understanding and testing ideas that are applicable throughout science and
o Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation. Tracking fluxes of energy
and matter into, out of, and within systems helps one understand the systems
possibilities and limitations.
o Stability and change. For natural and built systems alike, conditions of stability
and determinants of rates of change or evolution of a system are critical elements of
Aniya F

Laptop (1)

PowerPoint Presentation (1)

Assortment of recyclable and non-recyclable materials/ objects (i.e. plastic and

glass bottles, cans, paper, apples, candy wrappers, plastic bags, cartons, sticky notes

Duffle bag (1) to hold above materials

Handout style copies of the printed slides (6)

Lined paper (1 stack)

Writing implements (6)


Open duffle bag and lay out recyclable and non recyclable materials on the table
Stack PowerPoint printouts
Stack lined paper
Put writing implements on the table

Bergey, Nancylee 11/10/16 5:32 PM

Comment: This is a great list of practices and
cross-cutting concepts, but you still need
something from the disciplinary core. I think
you will find good ones in both the Earth and
Space section and the Technology section. You
can use the 5th grade endpoints if that helps.
Bergey, Nancylee 11/10/16 5:39 PM
Comment: I hope that these are pseudonyms!


Pull up PowerPoint presentation on laptop (for quick access to video clips)

Classroom Arrangement and Management Issues

Briefly describe the physical arrangement of the class and with respect to managing your plans in
the particular space:
Students will sit around a table in the library so that they can all see me. I envision
two students on each side of me. The classroom arrangement that I have chosen is the
library because it will be quiet enough for students to hear me and for my mentor to
observe me. My contingency plan is to hold the lesson in the classroom during my
teachers prep time. They will sit in this way so that they can listen to the first part of the
lesson and then will have access to the materials that I will have laid out for the second
half. (They will just stand up to access the materials.)
Management concerns that will likely arise will be mostly disengagement. I will
encourage engagement but rephrasing questions asked by other students.
I will open the lesson by saying to students, As you can see, there is a pile of objects
here on this table. My task for you is to work as a group and sort these objects in a way that
makes sense to you. There is no right or wrong answer, just sort the objects in a way that
seems logical to all of you. (5 minutes) 1:30 pm-1:35 pm
I will leave the objects in the pile that the kids will come back to later
I will ask then students, Have you ever thought about what happens to your trash after it
leaves your hands? After waiting 45 seconds I will go around the circle and take a response
from each student. I will follow up with, If you havent thought about this, why not, and if
you have, where do you think that your trash goes? (2 minutes) 1:35 pm-1:37 pm
I will read this statistic, The United States produces 390 billion (390,000,000,000)
pounds of garbage every year. Finding places to dispose of all of this trash is a serious
environmental issue and economic challenge. (1 minute) 1:37 pm-1:38 pm
We will watch the video From Lunch to Landfill by Meg Ryan (2 minutes) 1:38 pm1:40 pm
We will have a discussion about the video. I will ask about the steps of this meal as it
travels through the waste disposal process (3 minutes) 1:40 pm-1:43 pm
We will look at a diagram of what materials can be recycled in Philadelphia (3 minute) I
will ask students, Do you recycle at home? Why? Why not? 1:43 pm-1:46 pm
We will look at a map of where Philadelphias trash goes (2 minutes) 1:46 pm-1:48 pm
We will then watch another video about one way that waste material can be recycled to
be made into sneakers (2 minutes) 1:48 pm-1:50 pm
We will then return to the objects that students sorted into groups at the beginning of the
lesson. We will have a discussion of this activity during which I will ask students why they
sorted the materials into the groups that they did. (I hope that they will be excited to talk
about this because I will not let them talk about their rational immediately after they did the
activity.) I will then ask them if they want to change their organization after learning new
information in this lesson. Then I will as them why or why not. (10 minutes) 1:50 pm-2:00

Bergey, Nancylee 11/11/16 8:02 AM

Comment: You might want to have the
number written out, long form as you did here
to help make an impression. Otherwise big
numbers are just big numbers to most people.
All those zeroes do help! You could even be
dramatic and roll it out on a paper (receipt)
Bergey, Nancylee 11/11/16 8:08 AM
Comment: Good you set up the video and
now it can carry the information both verbally
and visually.
Bergey, Nancylee 11/11/16 8:09 AM
Comment: I hope that this discussion actually
goes longer. Are you aware that residents can
get points for how much they recycle in
some (all?) areas of Philly? That may come up,
so be prepared. If it does, then you might be
able to connect to why the city might want to
incentivize this.
Bergey, Nancylee 11/11/16 8:13 AM
Comment: This is a bit oblique. How about
simply asking them to work together
(including talk) to resort it around
reuse/recycling, and then get them to talk about
how they did it and why. Some neighborhoods
(all?) have comingled recycling families can
put out all recyclable materials in the same bin.
So you might see paper mixed with aluminum.
If that is true you could get them to make the
further separations that would need to happen
at the recycling center before any actual
recycling can happen.
Depending on your group and your timing, you
might bring up why reducing or reusing are
actually better than recycling. (Recycling
reuses materials, which is great, but it takes
additional energy to make them materials into
a new useful thing.)

I will end with an exit ticket that will have students answer one of three questions, What
happens to our trash after we get rid of it? What is one way that we can re-use materials?
and What is one thing that you learned about trash in this lesson that you did not know
before? I will collect these answer slips for artifacts of student understanding (or
misunderstanding) (5 minutes) 2:00 pm-2:05 pm
Assessment of the goals/ objectives listed above
I will use an exit ticket to assess students understanding of the key goal. I will ask the students
the question stated in the objective, What happens to our trash after we throw it away?
Hopefully I will be able to tell from their responses how much (or little) they engaged with the
material of the lesson. I hope that this lesson will help them to understand the world around them
better. I will also offer the alternative question, What is one thing that you learned about trash in
this lesson that you did not know before?

Bergey, Nancylee 11/11/16 8:18 AM

Comment: This is a very open ended question.
I LIKE open ended questions in discussion, but
you could write an essay here and that is
probably not what you want. You might want
to think about a commitment question,
something like: What is one thing you could
(will?) do this week to reduce your impact on
the environment? Narrowing to one thing helps
here, even though you can still see a variety of

Anticipating students responses and your possible responses

I do not anticipate any management issues with the group of students that I have
selected. They have historically all been very mature and well behaved, especially with
I hope that the response to content of the lesson will be favorable. I hope that the
students enjoy the incorporation of video media and hands-on activities.
I purposely picked a lesson that was relatively basic, so I do not think that any
students will find the material too challenging. If students have trouble with any of the
words in any of the materials I will be there to help them pronounce these words.
For students who may need greater challenge and/or finish early I will assign
them a short writing assignment (no more than a paragraph) where I will ask them if they
can recall every object that they threw away or recycled in the last day.

Bergey, Nancylee 11/11/16 8:22 AM

Comment: That is a nice topic as a meaningful
time filler. You might want to figure out some
way to honor this writing so that it is not just
that early finishers have to do more work. My
guess is you wont need this if you allow
conversations to take the time they need.