The Case of Plastics Test Run: Day IV
After two days of debate and the delivery of a decision by the EPA regulators, the Case of Plastics had one more session. This time we met in our regular classroom, no longer in character, to discuss what we had learned from the exercise. Since the Case of Plastics employs a fairly unconventional educational model, I was especially curious what the students thought of the project's structure. Did they find it useful? And, most critically, did they actually learn about plastics in the way that we hoped they would?
I was pleased to find that the students had enjoyed the game model, to the extent that they would be eager to play a similar game on a different topic. I was even more pleased to see that they had in fact learned a lot about plastics and in a thoughtful way. When I asked them to discuss possible solutions to the problems of plastics, they talked about a range of possibilities, with ideas derived from what they had learned in the debates, but failed to arrive at any concrete recommendation.
In many ways, their failure to reach a conclusion realized the depth of their new understanding. Their discussion showed a real appreciation for the complexity of the issues, the many points of view that we had asked them to consider, and the fact that no easy solutions exist. That seemed to me like good reason to judge the test run a success.
Below are a selection of student responses explaining how they will think about plastics differently now that they have participated in this project: