Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Waste Not...

With separate bins in every classroom for disposing of different kinds of waste, county centers or curbside recycling for home owners, compost bins in backyards, The Salvation Army, Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity stores in local communities, deposits on cans and bottles in many states and weekly garbage pick-up, it's hard to imagine a time when this was not commonplace.  Although forms of reuse have been around throughout history, the big push for recycling reemerged with the observance of the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970.  Shortly thereafter the science of studying trash and how it reflects on a given society, garbology, became a branch of the field of archaeology through the efforts of Professor William Rathje of the University of Arizona.

The American Association of School Librarians Best Websites for Teaching and Learning 2013 have included in their new list a website completely focused on this study.  Falling under the category of Curriculum Collaboration, Standards for the 21st-Century Learner1.3.4 Contribute to the exchange of ideas within a learning community, 3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners, 3.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use, and assess and 4.3.1 Participate in the social exchange of ideas, both electronically and in person this website is free to use and maintained with the support of sponsors by NatureBridge located in San Francisco, California.  Garbology is designed to be a resource for teachers, students and families.

When first accessing the home page users are greeted with an interactive game at the top of the page.  My Garbology defines the term by selecting the arrow on the left or the game can be started by choosing the arrow on the right.  The next screen features a row of colorful waste containers with items no longer needed by consumers.

Users have the option of dragging the items into the Reuse, Compost, Recycle or Landfill bins.  If, for example, the shirt is placed in the Compost can, it spits it back out again.  That is the incorrect way of disposing of used clothing.

If it is correctly placed in the Reuse container, a new window opens.  At this window a fact is provided for the person playing the game.  They can continue to learn more information by clicking on the next button [1], go back to the original screen with the row of containers [2] or shrink the size of the game window by choosing the box with the arrow in it [3].

When all of the facts have been explained, listened to by the user, a challenge pops up on the screen.  At this point by choosing the next arrow, you are taken back to the original screen with the item correctly placed in the container no longer available. When all of the items have been placed in the preferred container, a final window appears.

In this window users are asked to take the pledge.  You can download a printable PDF document and take the pledge on Facebook.  If you want to go through the game again, that option is also available.  There are numerous interactive choices within each portion of the game, looking at objects through x-ray glasses, moving a slider and dragging and dropping items to a scale, for example.

Beneath the game is a toolbar with choices for learning more about what the site offers, a page dedicated to listing the sources of information for the facts given in the game, links to pages geared toward teachers, students and families, Trash Talk (a page explaining Garbology as a term, its history, and the site) and a contact submission form.
When choosing any of these options, across the top of the new page users can gain more information about services offered by NatureBridge in California.  The tabs are:

  • About Us (Why We Teach, How We Teach, Research & Resources)
  • School & Group Field Science (at Yosemite, at Golden Gate, at Olympic, at Santa Monica Mountains, at Channel Islands)
  • Family & Youth Programs (at Yosemite, at Golden Gate, at Olympic)
  • Training & Tools (for Teachers, for Outdoor Professionals)
  • National Park Locations (Yosemite, Golden Gate, Olympic, Santa Monica Mountains, Channel Islands) and
  • News, Events & Community (News & Events, Blog, Media)

On the For Teachers page all the lessons (nine) and fact sheets (five) are in PDF format.  Each lesson includes the appropriate grade level, a summary, overview, vocabulary, materials, time needed, background introduction, a lengthy list of activities, National Science Standards covered in the lesson and any necessary activity sheets.  If any preparations are needed they are listed.  Some lessons include before and after questions to promote discussion and extensions to the listed activities. 

The For Students section provides activities (eight) geared toward conducting your own garbology.  Seven activities are included in the For Parents page.  Each of the three For pages contains a featured item as well as a link to the My Garbology game.

Due to the interactivity of the My Garbology game this website could be used by individuals or with groups.  Each layer of the game cleverly informs the player(s) but also encourages independent thinking and larger conversations.  The facts provided are astounding no matter the age of the user.  No one can use this website without wondering what they can do to make our planet better for future generations.

Make sure you place this top-notch website in your curriculum.  It's a must; highly recommended. There is also an option to sign up for teaching resources via email.  

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