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Finding creative solutions to pollution: fifth-graders make business plans

Published on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021

business model out of legos   student working on business plan on computer

BCSD provided photos

Last quarter, Bowen's Corner Elementary fifth-grade teacher Kelee Beckwith presented her students with the following scenario:

"A company you own has bought Morris Island, located in Charleston Harbor. You will need to submit a plan and a model for how your company is going to prevent the water and air from becoming polluted. This plan will be submitted to Mayor Tecklenburg for approval."

The driving question: How can your company take steps to reduce its impact on pollution in the Charleston Harbor and surrounding city? 

The objective of her students' pollution STEAM projects was to show how important it was to consider pollution when creating their hypothetical businesses as well as the pollution their businesses could cause while it would be up and running. 

"The students really enjoyed taking ownership of creating their own business/company while keeping the prevention of pollution in mind," she said. "Their favorite part of the project was building their models of their business that would take place on the island. "

Most of all, the students loved having a choice in their learning and the opportunity to be creative. 

model of business   student working on project

Key ingredients

  • Notes from direct instruction (standards taught)
  • Research on eco-friendly alternatives or pollution prevention
  • Research on Morris Island: what it looks like, where it is located, its history
  • Business Plan Template & Rubric
  • Blueprint of their Business
  • Materials to Build: Cardboard, Paper Towel Tubes, Tape, Glue, Scissors, Styrofoam cups, popsicle sticks, plastic bottles, etc. (Beckwith said really anything they could get their hands on, they used)
  • Google Slides Presentation and Rubric

The steps everyone took to complete the lesson

  1. Research on Morris Island: what it looks like, where its located, its history (the lighthouse)
  2. Complete their Business Plan
    1. Business’ Name & Type of Business
    2. Explain what the business is
    3. Explain why the Mayor should pick the business: give 3 reasons
    4. Explain what their potential pollution problem is
    5. Explain how they plan to prevent the potential pollution problem (students used vocabulary words like renewable, nonrenewable, alternatives)
    6. Include Blueprint of Plan 
  3. Build Model
    1. Model Matches Blueprint
    2. Model showing solution to pollution problem
    3. Model includes lighthouse
    4. If they chose not to include the lighthouse, they explained why they chose not to include it in their business plan.
    5. Model matches the business plan
  4. Create Google Slides Presentation
    1. Slide 1: Title Slide: Name of business/Business Owner’s Name 
    2. Slide 2: Insert Business Plan
    3. Slide 3: Insert Blueprint
    4. Slide 4: Insert Picture of Model
    5. Slide 5: Summary as to why their business should be chosen (students explained why their business would not harm its environment through pollution)
    6. Overall Presentation (speaking clearly, eye contact with audience, etc.)