Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It All Adds Up ~ Capri Sun Face Value & Place Value

Last week I got a $130 check. Well, actually, it was given to me and my "partner in green" at school by our school's business manager. Even more specifically, it was a copy of the check that we had received...received from Terracycle. Why? It was a direct result of our efforts in upcycling juice pouches, glue sticks, Frito Lay chip bags, and Ziploc plastic bags.

At face value, $130 is a nice amount... perhaps not a memorable amount in a normal situation, but I am sure an amount that most people wouldn't pass it up. Yet, when you consider that each pouch, baggie, or stick that we rescue from the refuse bin warrants $0.02 each, that amount becomes a rather remarkable amount. Especially when you are talking about a school with a population under 100 students.

I think that this becomes the perfect teachable moment: Little acts do indeed add up. When my 3rd graders take part of the collection and counting process each week, they see that. (Sometimes through the "grodier" side of it!) When we use the juice pouches 5 or so weeks into school as a place value activity to show how 10 ones equals one group of tens, then 10 tens equals 100, and... oh wow... how that massive pile of juice pouches ultimately converts to ten groups of 100s, which equals 1,000.... they can indeed start to see how it all adds up.

When they see a $130 check that benefits our school, that comes from a multitude of 2¢ USED juice pouches (that were landfill-bound... that WE rescued for reuse... that we rescued from making its way to a waterway and ultimately the Great Pacific Garbage Patch of toxic trash)....  YES! It definitely adds up!

It's about then that the juice pouches start coming in (in bulk) from soccer game snacks and birthday parties... and the young activists are born.

Terracycle Banner image from www.terracycle.net; all other pics from my 3rd grade classroom.

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