Carbon Footprint Unit

Our first project was an example of a big self contained unit on Carbon Footprints. We started with a “hook” which was the Green Ninja Video. Then we had fifteen minutes to do a web quest, “What is a carbon footprint?” We talked about that and then came up with a class definition for Carbon Footprint. We took an online quiz ranking our own carbon footprint and then reflected on our results in our notebooks. To sum up, we each had to make a poster of our average day and its footprint.  This is another student’s poster (I didn’t get a picture of mine):

Daily Footprint

Since Carbon Footprint is such a large topic, we narrowed our focus to Carbon “Foodprint” (the footprint of what we eat). We were given an article to read, jigsawed so that each pair of students just had one part and was responsible for creating three sides in a Google presentation, which was then presented to the class. We did an activity called a Silent Gallery. We were each given an 11×17 piece of paper folded to make a booklet. We labeled the front with the topic, our name and the date, which left seven pages to fill. Each table of seven was given a stack of seven laminated cards, each with some information about Carbon Foodprint. In silence we passed the cards to the right every two minutes, taking notes in our notebook. At the end, we passed the cards to the right again, with each student having two minutes to present that card and their notes. This is a great EL activity, because the cards were full of color, pictures and graphics. It is also engages the less motivated students, because they only have two minutes to make notes.

The project portion was about food choices and building a better burger. We started with a hook video about lab grown hamburger. We then read a short article from Scholastic Math about the artificial burger, and were each given three cards on which to record two true facts from the article and one lie. We then went around the room and exchanged cards, to see if our partners could spot the lie (alternately, students could present their cards to the whole class). We then had a lab activity to “Build a better burger” to be judged on four qualities: Appearance, Taste, Texture, and Carbon Footprint. As a class, we designed the judging criteria by splitting into four groups to design that part of the rubric (this was done in a shared Google document so we could all create it together).

Now the fun really started: building our burger! We were given an array of foods, such as various canned beans and grains, tofu, and seasonings. We were provided with food processors and electric grills (think George Forman). In groups, we had to follow specific steps: Design what our burger would be made of, Plan our preparation process, Build our burger including cooking, Test each burger, and Report/Reflect on our results and improvements we would make. To test, we each made a burger to be shared with the class, and each group tasted each burger and ranked it according to our rubric.

Finally, we each made a footprint poster to summarize our feelings about the unit.

Carbon Foodprint

What struck me about this unit is how it made the topic of global warming personal. It forced the students to reflect on what carbon emissions mean in terms of the lives we all lead. So this unit was relevant to the students. This also hit all four Cs: Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical Thinking.

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