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This low prep and engaging NGSS and STEM Investigation Project teaches middle school students that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society in various ways MS-PS1-3. They are presented with the phenomenon of floating garbage in the sea through a video clip and investigate one of several listed materials in the trash to ultimately learn that synthetic materials, in some capacity, come from raw materials in nature and are chemically changed to make something synthetic. They impact society in both positive and negative ways which are specific to each material. In groups, students research their synthetic material, record information in a detailed outline, and develop a prop to teach the class HOW the material is made/where it originated from.
This project is aligned with the NGSS Performance Expectation MS-PS1-3 Gather and make sense of information to describe that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society. It is a ready to go, LOW PREP, seven day resource that should be taught at the culmination of a chemistry unit after students have learned about elements, compounds, and physical/chemical changes to asses their understanding in a true NGSS way. *Note: Students will learn what a natural resource is and what a synthetic material is as part of the introduction and in the card sort activity.
Included in this resource:
Simple Materials Needed: Internet access, samples of various synthetic materials for student observation (easy to gather such as a rubber band or balloon, plastic straw, plastic water bottle, fishing line, wax candle, glass, piece of rope, particle board, polyester, etc.)
Science and Engineering Practices:
Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to evaluating the merit and validity of ideas and methods.
Structure and Function - Structures can be designed to serve particular functions by taking into account properties of different materials, and how materials can be shaped and used.
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