Ted's teaching tips;The big picture;Parting shots

12th June 1998 at 01:00
It may appear to be a load of rubbish to some people, but topics like "environment", "pollution", "materials", "danger", "waste" are of great interest to children of all ages, and this grim picture opens them all up.

Health and safety

Particularly with young children this is an important issue. Why might rubbish tips be dangerous? (Poisons, like discarded tablets, liquids, syringes, gases, such as those found in empty paraffin or petrol containers, which can explode if struck and punctured by stones; suffocation, if the tip collapses on children playing there.) Science

What does the term "biodegradable" mean? Sort "rubbish" into two types: (1) those materials and substances that can be broken down naturally, because they dissolve, become part of the soil, or get eaten by other creatures, like potato peelings, cabbage leaves, bits of bacon fat; (2) articles that will not decompose or become absorbed, such as bottles and plastic containers.

Waste disposal

Discuss what we should do with waste. Think of positive moves (sewage farms; recyclingreclaiming glass, paper, metals) and negative strategies, such as dumping at sea (oil and toxic waste kill fish and marine life), polluting rivers (factories discharging poisons that may enter the food chain), nuclear waste (nations trying to "export" their radioactive waste to another country). Land infill can be good or bad: good if well landscaped and "safe"; bad if toxic, dangerous and unsightly.

Ted Wragg is professor of education at Exeter University

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