To wean the toy industry off plastic is no easy game

To wean the toy industry off plastic is no easy game

The global toy industry has a plastics predicament: How to feed children’s appetite for new toys, keep prices low and not harm the Earth in the process. A pile of plastic toys at a toy landfill. (Illustration by News Decoder) Plastic is omnipresent in our lives...

90% of the world’s new toys feature some form of plastic. As the industry continues to grow, especially in places like North America, how can we ensure toy makers are thinking of the environment — and not just profit? University of Toronto Journalism Fellow Preety Sharma covers potential solutions.

Exercise: Sharma’s article suggests that pro-environmental behavior is most commonly adopted when it is a default option. That means it is the easiest or cheapest option. In pairs, have students think about the default options in their lives. Are these the most environmentally-friendly options, or is there room for improvement? For example: students may think about the accessibility of recycling/compost bins in their local community, the types of food packaging they see in the grocery store, etc.

Mining nickel comes with big costs

Mining nickel comes with big costs

Massive industrial complexes for nickel mining have transformed an Indonesian island long home to fishing villages and school children. Workers walk near excavators to gather soil containing nickel ore at PT Virtue Dragon Nickel Industry, a nickel processing complex...

Understanding nuance and context is a critical skill to develop in young people. In this photo essay from guest writer Garry Lotulung, students learn about the impact of the green transition on local communities in Indonesia, where nickel is mined to produce batteries for electric cars. Globally, transitioning to renewable energy is a positive — what’s the impact for Indonesians on the ground? 

Exercise: In groups of 2-3, students will engage in a See-Think-Wonder activity with the photos in the article’s gallery. Each group will focus on a different photo, logging first what they see in the image, what they think is happening and what they wonder about after examining the image. The see stage develops students’ observation skills and focuses on gathering information without making interpretations. The think stage helps students develop critical thinking by interpreting and coming to conclusions using visual evidence in the photo. The wonder stage prompts inquiry and intellectual curiosity. After the See-Think-Wonder activity, read the article as a class.

Decoder Replay: Tackling climate change with good COPs, bad COPs

Decoder Replay: Tackling climate change with good COPs, bad COPs

For years, governments have engaged in marathon annual talks to try to end global warming. But they often fall frustratingly short. A giant sculpture tops the Museum of the Future in Dubai. Credit: Lyonerov CC by 4.0 Editor’s note: Beginning 28 November, some...

With COP28 beginning in Dubai this week (late November 2023), help your students contribute to the climate conversation with this article originally published in October 2022 ahead of COP27 in Egypt. Climate journalist Alister Doyle runs down what to expect with these global summits — and why they often fall short.

Exercise: Read the article with your class to cover the background and purpose of COPs. Then, have students find current media coverage of the event. How does today’s coverage compare to Doyle’s piece from one year ago? What, if anything, has changed? Is the general consensus on climate change mitigation more or less optimistic than it was a year ago?

A race to save Uganda’s hippos

A race to save Uganda’s hippos

To prove they have what it takes to combat poachers, Uganda rangers race 21 km in scorching heat. They vow: No species will disappear under their watch. A hippo in the Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda, September 2008. (Photo by Bernard Dupont, CC BY-SA 2.0...

Big problems can be addressed with outside-the-box, collective solutions. In this article from guest writer Enock Wanderema, we dive into the world of hippo conservation in Uganda. How can your students also engage locally to support causes that are important to them?

Exercise: After reading the article, students should brainstorm a couple of causes that they care about. Then, they should look up local events and organizations that work to support these causes. How can they get involved with these solutions-based actions? You may consider discussing the importance of civic engagement with your class as a follow-up to this activity.

ScienceEnvironment