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The Story of Plastic
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The Story of Plastic


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Grade Level Grades 9-12
Standards Alignment
Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards

About This Lesson

About the Guide: The Story of Plastic challenges students to think critically about how they can contribute to meaningful change when it comes to the way our society regards plastics. Young people have a critical stake in the environmental decisions made today. This standards-aligned study guide helps teachers empower students with tools to become active participants in the public debate over plastic. Teachers can choose from a variety of discussion questions designed to get students talking about themes like media literacy, collective responsibility, and environ- mental justice. Additionally, this guide includes a range of interdisciplinary activities that allow students to apply these concepts to service learning projects that support a global movement to break free from plastics.

About the Film: Depicting a world rapidly becoming overrun with toxic materials, THE STORY OF PLASTIC brings into focus an alarming, human-made crisis. Striking footage illustrates the ongoing catastrophe: fields full of garbage, veritable mountains of trash; rivers and seas clogged with waste; and skies choked with the poisonous runoff from plastic production and recycling processes with no end in sight. Original animations and archival material from the 1950s and ‘60s augment the far-ranging insights of contemporary activists, scientists, and farmers in this timely documentary. These perspectives along with forays to sites as far-flung as China, Indonesia, India, and the Philippines, in addition to US locales, point to the disastrous impact of the manufacture and use of plastics. THE STORY OF PLASTIC identifies a pressing global challenge first identified around 20 years ago—one that threatens the life expectancy of animals, humans, and Earth itself.



Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9–10 texts and topics.
Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.


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