Digital Resource Curation: Investigating Oceans of Plastic
Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water
What is resource curation focused on a global issue?
Curation is defined as “the action or process of selecting, organizing, and looking after the items in a collection or exhibition.” The Internet is limitless. The problem isn’t a lack of information. It’s trying to choose carefully from more resources than we could ever consume.
Basically, curation is a valuable tool for the future of work. Instead of creating, students could curate. They can gather the best resources from the web that represent what they’ve learned. After gathering them, they can annotate — write short descriptions of why these are good resources, why they represent what they’ve learned, how what they’ve learned fits. Those annotations help add a layer of critical thinking.
A virtual project designed to ask students to curate articles, images, videos and content focused on a particular global issue also provides educators opportunity for assessment of student understanding and mastery of the global issue and valuable research skills.
Now, how do I make this project authentic?
According to the organization 5 Gyres, eight million metric tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year. Why does it matter? Plastic can take thousands of years to break down. In its original state as a bag, bottle, rope, or wrapper, it makes the ocean inhospitable and even fatal to fish, birds, mammals, and plant life. On its long path to decomposition, plastic breaks apart into tiny shards that form a kind of “smog” suspended in water, and these shards become magnets for industrial toxins that are dangerous to animal, plant, and human life. Where does all that plastic come from, and how does it wind up in the ocean? At the source, more than 300 million tons of new plastic are produced every year. Production has increased more than 2000 percent since the 1960s. Today, plastic is ubiquitous in modern life.
Plastic is a relatively recent invention and really only took hold in everyday life in the 1950s. Plastic makes much of modern life possible; it’s in our homes, cars, and clothing, and we use it to inexpensively package everything from laundry detergent to grocery store produce. If the waste we are experiencing today is from less than 100 years of use, what will it be like in 500 years if we continue on this pace?
Curating a list of resources not only improves students’ research skills, but also helps them to identify the core issues and potential solutions to this global issue.
Here is an example.