The Island of Ablai (pt. 5)

Pt. 1 Planning

Pt. 2 Creating the Environment

Pt. 3 Money Matters
Pt. 4 - Negotiating the World

Pt. 5 Natural Resources and Manufacturing

Looking at our list of products and services, what natural resources do we need?

We started by doing an example as a group.  

Police will need uniforms (cotton), badges (metal), handcuffs (metal), lights for their bikes (glass), bricks for the police station (stone or clay), bars for the jail (iron), etc.  We continued this example by looking at things in our classroom.  What is this table made of?  How many natural resources did it take to make it?  What does plastic come from (many of them were very surprised to here it comes from oil)?  

Next, the kids combed through all of the items we had agreed on and made lists on the natural resources we need for each one.  We came up with the following list:

Iron OreStone

PlantsWoodSandRare Earths and Metals

I put this list into a gDoc and we went to the computer lab.

Before we started to brainstorm, we did a little recursive activity just to go back and highlight some of the key words we have learned.  On a different joint gDoc, we group wrote and edited definitions to some of the key words we have studied.  

So, now that we had a list of Natural Resources, I wonder what we can manufacture from this list?  To do this, I had the kids do a brainstorm in gDoc.  It is a very powerful activity, and the kids ove it.  I find it allows everybody to have a voice, and you usually got lost in the moment.  At the end of the brainstorm, we have a document that is far greater than what any of us could do alone.  I screen recorded the whole thing:

The Manufacturing Process

By this point they had a pretty good idea that the items they buy go through a process before they get to their homes.  However, I wanted to make this explicit.  We ZOOMED OUT from our inquiry, and watched the incredible film, The Story of Stuff (electronics).  In this they walk you through how electronics are made, from natural resources to disposal.  The kids had to take pictorial notes (fitting since the whole story is told in animated pictures) and then to re-create the process in a poster.  

They weren't satisfied with this process.  They didn't like the end result being the dump, or disposal.  They wanted to re-invent the process.  So, another group came up with an alternative to the Linear Manufacturing process.  They came up with the Green Manufacturing Cycle.

What was really great about this is that they were using these words.  The word Excavation was new to most of them, but by the end of the class, they were using it perfectly.  Same with Production, Distribution, Consumption, and Disposal.  One group of girls even broke off their poster group and created a dance showing the whole process in action!  

Also, I loved how the group that made the Green Cycle realized, with no help from me, that the cycle cannot go back to Extraction.  Once you take it out of the ground or cut it down, you can't put it back.  Instead of making it a perfect circle, they looped it back around to production.

Finally, I love how they realize the folly of a linear system.  Of course that doesn't make sense, was their response.  I hope they keep this sense of understanding with them into the future, and when they are in positions of power in our society, this learning experience is embodied in them and they enact on it.... the world needs people like that....

Updating our Map

Now that we had a list of natural resources to extract, and goods to manufacture, we needed to start building factories, mines, quarries, lumber mills, geothermal plants, off shore oil rigs, etc.

- We made a list of all the things we needed to "build".
- We debated and chose a place on the map for them.  Interesting to note that they put the heavy industry far away from the city; iron mining, oil rigs, stone quarries, etc, and the relatively benign industries close to the city; cotton farming, glass factory.... even children will adhere to the Not in My Back Yard (NIMBY) philosophy without being prompted to....
- We went onto iPads to look at pictures of what these places look like.  This was a powerful step.  Some of these kids had never seen a picture of a stone quarry before, or what an open pit iron mine looks like.  Yet, they never suggested we stop mining for iron....
- Finally, we updated our map.  Our theme for the whole map is Bright Colors, and Cut Paper.  The only pen or marker marks allowed are for labels....

Offshore Oil Rig with nearby Oil Refinery
Iron Mine and Iron Factory
Geothermal Plant

The Island of Ablai (the city will go in the SE corner and run along the ocean up to the top roughly the top of the beach, near the glass factory)


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