Science and ELA lesson for students grades 8-12

Who is animator Miwa Matreyek?

Silhouette of a woman holding a tiny person in her hand against a backdrop of animated ocean with fish and a large full moonMiwa Matreyek is an animator, director, designer, and performer based in Los Angeles. Coming from a background in animation by way of collage, Miwa creates live, staged performances where she interacts with her animations as a shadow silhouette, at the cross-section of cinema and theatrical, fantastical and tangible, illusionistic and physical. Her work exists in a dreamlike visual space that makes invisible worlds visible, often weaving surreal and poetic narratives of conflict between man and nature. Her work exists both at the realm of the hand-made and tech. She performs her interdisciplinary shadow performances all around the world, including animation/film festivals, theater/performance festivals, art museums, science museums, and tech conferences. A few past presenters include TED, MOMA, Lincoln Center, Sundance New Frontier, Future of Storytelling conference, Exploratorium, Adler Planetarium, ISEA conference, Meta.Morph (Norway), Anima Mundi (Brazil), Houston Cinematic Arts Festival, Carnegie Museum of Natural History and many more.

In this video, Miwa discusses her process and the relationship she has crafted between science and art, always asking herself: “How can art be an impactful way to emotionally move an audience?”

Watch Artist Talk and Performance Highlights

Miwa has a long relationship with FirstWorks. She is one of the artists engaged for the FirstWorks Earth First initiative – to communicate compelling ideas of environmental stewardship through world-class arts. Due to COVID-19, her March 2020 residency was postponed to the 2020-21 FirstWorks season. Details will be forthcoming.

LESSON 1 – Greenhouse Effect – Gases, Grades 8–12

Science Standards:
MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
HS-ESS3-5 ESS3.D Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth.
HS-ETS1-1 ETS1.A Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
English Language Arts Standards:
RST.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.

Introduction: Although many gases in the atmosphere have little effect on weather patterns there are some that have a significant effect on the weather that we experience. Carbon dioxide is one of the gases that do affect weather. This gas has the unique characteristic of absorbing the heat sent to the Earth from the Sun. This helps keeps the Earth warm for life to exist. Carbon dioxide occurs naturally causing the greenhouse effect. The problem starts when humans artificially add higher amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than is needed to maintain a natural balance. This happens through the burning of fossil fuels (or greenhouse gases) and is causing the Earth’s temperature to rise in an enhanced greenhouse effect. Quick Fact: The Greenhouse gases (GHGs) include water vapor (H20), carbon dioxide (CO2, methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N20), halocarbons (HC), ozone (O3). Source: climatechangeconnection.org

Curriculum Connections: Students will describe examples of natural phenomena and processes such as weather that illustrate the properties of gases.

Supplies/Materials
• Properties of Gases video: https://youtu.be/3dbqD6W4z4U
• 2 tbs popcorn
• Clear plastic bowl with cover
• Tap water
• Cup
• Straw
• Styrofoam cup
• Index card

Hook: As a class go online and look up the weather of your community on different sites such as The Weather Channel and NOAA. What can you gather from this data collection?

Intro Activity: Ask students to watch the “properties of gases video” (make sure to take notes.)

Activity #1: Microwave Popcorn Experiment

Key concept: When the temperature of a gas is increased, its volume will increase. Students will be microwaving small amounts of popcorn in a clear bowl. Popcorn pops when the moisture inside boils and expands, bursting the kernel open. Instructions: Place about two tablespoons of popcorn in the clear plastic bowl. Put the top on the bowl and place in the microwave. Close the microwave door and turn the microwave on high. Watch as closely as you can as the popcorn kernels begin to pop, but of course DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR! As soon as the vigorous popping stops, turn off the microwave.

Conclusion / Review: 1. Describe what you see? 2. What do you think makes the popcorn pop? Bonus: If you wish, put your popcorn in a paper bag, add some butter, maybe a little salt, eat, repeat until gone. Homework: In your science lab journal review our experiment. How does a temperature increase in a popcorn kernel relate to increased temperature in our community?

Activity #2: Air Pressure Examples Key concept: The earth’s atmosphere exerts pressure on objects. This activity has multiple steps. It is important that students follow each step chronologically which helps students build the acquired knowledge to make their final conclusions. As water is involved, suggest students conduct this activity near a sink.

Instructions:
1. Pour some tap water into one of the cups. Use the straw to sip some water. Why does this work?
2. Next, suck up some water, but place your index finger over the top of the straw. Lift the straw out of the cup. What happens? What causes the water to remain in the straw?
3. Fill a Styrofoam cup to its top. Place an index card over the top. Be sure that it completely covers the mouth of the cup. Gently turn the cup sideways. What happens to the water?
4. Next, standing over the sink, place your hand on top of the index card and turn the cup upside down. Slowly remove your hand. What happens to the water now? Put your hand back on the card and return the cup to the upright position.

Extra:
1. Repeat the experiment but, this time change the amount of water in the cup. Does it make any difference?
2. What about if you switch the container? Will a wider cup hold the card better than a narrower cup?
3. Does the temperature of the water have any effect on the water staying inside the cup?
4. Try the experiment using a paper cup or plastic cup but this time, using a thumbtack, poke a small hole in the bottom of the cup. What do you predict will happen if air is allowed to sneak into the cup?

Conclusion / Review:
1. What happens to the index card?
2. How is this possible?

Homework: In your science lab journal review the experiments.
1. How does a temperature increase in a popcorn kernel relate to increased temperature in our community?
2. How does the air pressure in a cup relate to our atmosphere?

Bonus Activity
The Importance of Play in Childhood Development
As Miwa mentions in the video, sometimes she just plays around with images and video, not knowing in what direction it will take her. Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children. One fun activity that all of the family can engage in at home is to create Shadow Puppets using flashlights.
Materials
• Source of light (flashlight, projector, lamp with the shade removed, etc)
• Darkened room
• Wall
• White sheet
Create your own shadows on the wall. In a dark room, shine a light on the wall. Put your hand in front of the light to create a shadow on the wall. Hold up your first two fingers to make a bunny. Snap your thumb together with your fingers to make a crocodile. You can also place other objects in front of the light to create strange shadows. Have the kids try to guess what the object is. Move the objects closer to the light and then farther away from the light. How does the distance from the light change the shape of the shadow? Older children can put on a shadow play. Cut out figures from construction paper and glue them to a Popsicle stick to make puppets. Use those as your shadow puppets. Make up a story to go along with your shadow creations. Kids can also put on a shadow play by placing a white sheet or translucent tablecloth over a table or hanging it from the ceiling. Shine a light toward the sheet. The performer stands in between the light and the sheet. Have the audience sit on the other side of the table.

LESSON 2 – Global Temperature Changes – Plastic Waste, Grades 8 – 12

Science Standards:
MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
HS-ESS3-5 ESS3.D Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth.
HS-ETS1-1 ETS1.A Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
English Language Arts Standards:
RST.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.

Objective: To explore the effect of plastic waste on oceans.

Introduction: Plastics may end up in the oceans through a variety of means – direct dumping, wind, water or animal transport. These plastics may have significant implications for ocean health, through direct consumption and/or leaching of chemicals. This lesson allows students to evaluate media resources to think about these implications.

Curriculum Connections: Students will understand how human activity can adversely affect global surface temperatures that contribute to global warming.

Supplies/Materials
• Picture of plastic filled seabird
• National Geographic article about seabirds and plastics
• National Geographic article about microplastics in the Arctic
• Map of Rhode Island major watersheds

Hook: Show the picture of a seabird with plastic debris inside

Intro Activity: Have students try to identify the products in the picture.

Main Activity:
1. Have students read the articles provided, taking notes on main themes. Have them ask critical questions about what they
are reading and evaluate whether they believe the sources are viable.
2. Ask students to brainstorm how they think the plastic is ending up in the ocean. Ask them to think about their community in particular and how it could be connected to the ocean:
• What rivers flow into the ocean?
• Using the map of Rhode Island provided, explain the run of the rivers into Narragansett Bay and then to the ocean.
• Ask students to locate the three major rivers in Rhode Island; the Blackstone River, the Pawtuxet River, the Pawcatuck River.
• Which animals may carry stuff out to the ocean?
• Which means of transportation may result in wastes in the ocean?
• Where is the dump situated and how is waste secured from elements that may move them?
– List three actions you can take to reduce your carbon footprint.
• What would you like to learn more about in relation to climate change and global warming?

Independent Student Work: Allow students some time to research their questions.
1. Have them come up with an action plan to change the use of plastic in their own lives and for their community.
2. Have students read this article about an Alaskan village affected by climate change:
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/10/climate-change-finally-caught-up-to-this-alaska-village

Review: Have students share some ideas about plastic contamination.

Homework: Using a clear, flat surface at home, like a large table or the floor, ask students to lay out the plastic waste from their recycle bin. Take a photo and list the types of items on display. Ask students the following questions:
• Can students think of ways to replace some of the plastics with environmentally friendly containers or materials?
• List examples of what may be switched out.
• Have students keep a photo or video journal for one month, listing their plastic waste. Can they see any changes in the amount of their waste? Was there a reduction? If so, what changes did they make for that to happen? If not, what changes will they make?

Bonus Activity
The Importance of Play in Childhood Development
As Miwa mentions in the video, sometimes she just plays around with images and video, not knowing in what direction it will take her. Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children. One fun activity that all of the family can engage in at home is to create Shadow Puppets using flashlights.
Materials
• Source of light (flashlight, projector, lamp with the shade removed, etc)
• Darkened room
• Wall
• White sheet
Create your own shadows on the wall. In a dark room, shine a light on the wall. Put your hand in front of the light to create a shadow on the wall. Hold up your first two fingers to make a bunny. Snap your thumb together with your fingers to make a crocodile. You can also place other objects in front of the light to create strange shadows. Have the kids try to guess what the object is. Move the objects closer to the light and then farther away from the light. How does the distance from the light change the shape of the shadow? Older children can put on a shadow play. Cut out figures from construction paper and glue them to a Popsicle stick to make puppets. Use those as your shadow puppets. Make up a story to go along with your shadow creations. Kids can also put on a shadow play by placing a white sheet or translucent tablecloth over a table or hanging it from the ceiling. Shine a light toward the sheet. The performer stands in between the light and the sheet. Have the audience sit on the other side of the table.