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Lesson 4: True Cost of a Water Bottle

Lesson Overview:

Students learn how to estimate the true (full) cost of a water bottle, and what that means for our environment. The Final Project will be due at the end of this lesson. (See Lesson 1)

Number of class periods: 2

Standards:

Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/ Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects

  • RST. 6-8.4 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 6–8 texts and topics.
  • RST. 6-8.7 Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
  • WHST. 6-8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • WHST.6-8.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas clearly and efficiently.

Educatiion for Sustainability Core Content:

  • Sustainable Economics D3, D6, D7

Overarching Question: How are we all going to live well within the means of nature?

Essential Question: How do the choices we make affect the sustainability of local and global communities?

Guiding Questions:

• What is the cost of a water bottle?
• What is the price of a water bottle?
• What is the difference between cost and price in this case?
• What resources should be considered when determining the true cost of a water bottle? (For example, labor, factory space, transportation, etc…)
• What quantity of petroleum products is used in the production of water bottles (in barrels)?
• What is your estimated ‘true cost’ based upon your personal usage?
• What other costs can be measured besides petroleum? (For example, water used in production, landfill space for discarded bottles, and paper for the labels….)

Resources/Materials for this lesson:

Internet Based Resources

Activities/Procedures

1. Have students take out their responses from the previous evening’s homework. Ask: “What is the price of a bottle of water? What is the cost of a bottle of water?” Allow students to discuss their responses in small groups and then record out what was discussed. Clarify the terms: “cost” and “price.”

  • Price - the quantity of one thing usually referring to money that is exchanged or demanded in exchange for another
  • Cost - the loss, penalty or impact involved in achieving a goal

2. Review the previous lesson regarding the resources used in producing water bottles.

3. Challenge students to predict the amount of petroleum and water that is used (in gallons) to produce a year’s worth of water bottles in the US, the number of bottles discarded, and the amount of landfill space currently taken up by water bottles.

4. Give each student the handout “True Cost Calculator” (included). Ask students to explain why they think it is called ‘true cost.’ Make sure before starting the data research that students understand what true cost means.

  • True or full cost: cost of a good when its direct (internal) costs of production (such as materials, energy and labor) and its indirect (external) costs (such as the effects of its pollution to air or water, on health and the environment) are included in its market price. The Paper Trail: Connecting Economic and Natural Systems The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education 2007 NY

5. Pre-set the URLs for the two sites on the computers the students are going to use. Students then investigate the internet resources about the life cycle of a water bottle and compare their findings with their predictions.

6. Students complete “True Cost Calculator worksheet.” Give the following directions:

  • Students answer questions 1 and 2 of the worksheet using the web pages individually
  • Students work together to answer questions 3 – 5

7. When class reassembles the students answer questions 6-8 together.

8. Discuss question #8 to help students realize their impact on the environment. Show students a one gallon container to help them visualize a gallon.

9. Have students complete an Exit Ticket before they leave class on “What have I learned about the true cost of a water bottle?”

10. Challenge: You are the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Administration and you have been directed by the President to enforce the new law that outlaws plastic water bottles. Describe your alternative, and design the assessment criteria by which it will be rated. Share your ideas with the class; rate each others’ designs, and compile a master list of the class’ best thinking.

EfS Assessment/Scoring Criteria:

Standard
Performance Indicator
Assessment Instrument
Scoring Criteria
Sustainable Economics D3, D6, D7 (included) True Cost Calculator Worksheet Answer Key (included)

Glossary

• cost - the price of production
• landfill - a system of trash and garbage disposal in which the waste is buried into the earth
• petroleum: an oily, flammable liquid that occurs naturally in deposits, usually beneath the earth’s surface; it is primarily a mixture of hydrocarbons, with traces of nitrogen and sulfur compounds; obtained from wells drilled in the ground, and is the source of gasoline, kerosene, fuel oils, and other products
• price - the quantity of one thing usually referring to money that is exchanged or demanded in exchange for another
• true or full cost - cost of a good when its direct (internal) costs of production (such as materials, energy and labor) and its indirect (external) costs (such as the effects of its pollution to air or water, on health and the environment) are included in its market price.

 

PNW/BOCES Curriculum Center
Revised 8/25/13