Episode 2305 Lesson Plans: Recycling freighters

Episode 2305 Lesson Plans: Recycling freighters
June 8, 2023 Gary Abud Jr.

This lesson will explore the phenomenon of shipbreaking, including how the technique of breaking down freighters allows us to recycle the materials and parts of the ship for other uses. Students will model shipbreaking in order to better understand the process.

  • Know how shipbreaking takes place
  • Understand the recycling numbers on plastic containers
  • Be able to harvest bricks and parts from one LEGO build to create another altogether different build

View the entire lesson plan including teacher background information, worksheets and more below or download for free here.

Activity 1:

This activity is a video discussion of a Great Lakes Now segment featuring how Great Lakes freighters get broken down and the parts recycled. During the video they need to jot down four things they took away from the video using the 4 Notes Summary Protocol.

Watch a Great Lakes Now Segment

Activity 2:

In this activity, students will read about the recycling efforts one state has made that has helped it to significantly increase its recycling rate by over one third. The state of Michigan has gone from a statewide rate of recycling of about 14% to a rate of 19% in a matter of a few years. And there are lessons to be learned.

Read about Recycling Efforts in Michigan

Activity 3:

The purpose of this experiment is to investigate the densities of different plastics in order to learn about the recycling numbers system for plastic containers, which was developed by the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI).

Investigating Recycling Numbers

Activity 4:

The purpose of this experiment is to teach students about recycling and how plastic can be transformed into a different product.

Transforming Plastic into Products

Activity 5:

The purpose of this activity is to teach students about recycling and the importance of reusing materials by modeling shipbreaking by taking pre-built LEGO structures, break them down into individual component pieces, and then build new structures with the very same pieces.

Modeling Shipbreaking with Lego Bricks

Learn all about Episode 2305: Freighter Madness on this month’s landing page.

If you use this lesson or any of its activities with your learners, we’d love to hear about it! Contact us with any feedback or questions at: GreatLakesNow@DPTV.org

Find all the Great Lakes Now educational materials HERE.


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