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How to learn about garbage in the ocean? Action in the classroom.

Action follows hope if learning is to happen. Let me share a short story to set up the idea of an Action in Learning: I lived in the Pacific and would visit the islands of Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, and Tonga frequently. From a afar, these islands look pristine. Flying overhead and looking down, the water is emerald blue, the beaches are white, and the trees are green. As I visited these places on the ground and travelled by boat between islands, I realized how fragile they are. I was surprised at the amount of plastic - bags and bottles are piled up throughout the islands or washing up on beaches or floating in the ocean. I then read a story of a man who became lost at sea off the coast of Mexico who showed up 16 months later in the Marshall islands ( A scientist noted he was lucky, not only to be alive, but if he had floated into the garbage patch in the Pacific, he would have been stuck. "Garbage patch," I wondered? It seems there are two large garbage patches floating in the Pacific, mostly made up of plastics ( No one really knows how big these are, but it is safe to say the garbage covers hundreds of square miles -- maybe even the size of a moderate US State.

Now this blog is about education and not about garbage - but my guess is you, like I, are starting to form questions and hope to know more and wonder (even hope) you can make a difference. Imagine two classrooms: (1) Where the students read about plastic in the ocean and maybe watch a few clips, and (2) Where students find plastic garbage and begin to discuss how it can be recycled - and make inventions with the plastic. Which class has the greatest impact on students? Which group of students will have a change experience?

We all agree that it is the second. Here is a TedTalk by Cesar Harada, "How I teach kids to love science," where they acted upon the garbage in the ocean and did some creative things. This action leads to new knowledge - the "aha" moment in learning.

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