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Here are the steps we took to make our change


The issue of plastic pollution was first presented visually within a school-wide (N=600 students) slideshow detailing my National Geographic Arctic Svalbard expedition images. It was presented as an open-ended inquiry for student consideration.

Macroplastics found in the Arctic Ocean
Photo by Maya Santangelo

"Ms. Warmouth traveled to the High Arctic near the North Pole. No humans live there but she found plastic garbage washing up on the shorelines of remote islands. One of the items in the picture looks a lot like the plastic sporks we use every day at school.

Where did it come from and how did it get there?"

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Students were challenged to conduct their own research to develop theories about how the spork and other plastics got to the Arctic. Students submitted their theories and those theories drove the line of inquiry.

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Updated: Dec 9, 2020

Empathy requires a person to consider the perspective of another. Empathic perspective taking involves three components: cognition, emotion, and visual perception. Students activated their empathic responses to Arctic wildlife by thinking about, feeling with, and by assuming alternative visual vantage points through a combination of scholarly research, imaginative role play, wildlife interactions, and Virtual Reality enhanced storytelling.

Students in grades K-6 used Google Cardboard Viewers and Apple iPhones to embark upon Virtual Reality "field trips" to the High Arctic. They assumed the visual perspective of their teacher researcher while viewing her 360° video footage (via Go Pro Fusion), experienced Google's Virtual Reality Arctic Journey and viewed National Geographic 360° videos. They also used Google Earth to self navigate through the Svalbard archipelago.

Students collaborated to imaginatively assume the perspectives of the wildlife native to the Arctic. They constructed an interactive mural to immerse themselves and other children within their emerging concept of the Arctic ecosystem. They also visited the Woodland Park Zoo to observe wild animals firsthand and to engage in an ethogram exercise that was developed as part of the Measuring Empathy Collaborative Research Project.

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