Toward a Plastic Responsible Future Unit Driving Question: What can we do to reduce the effects of plastic pollution?

Solutions to Plastic Waste Lesson Driving Question: How do we measure and remove plastic from the waste stream?

1. Engage students in thinking about representing data with a discussion about effective data representation.
  • Remind students of the bar graph they created in the Introducing the Plastic Problem activity. Explain that the bar graph was a way of representing data about plastic in the classroom.
  • Ask students to share with a neighbor other ways that data can be represented. Elicit some student responses (Possible answers: pie charts, line graphs, and maps).

2. Have students analyze the interview data.

  • In the activity, Entering the Field, students collected interview data. In their groups, have students share their interview responses.
  • Use the responses to complete the Interview Data Analysis page in their Plastic Waste Research Packet.

3. Introduce students to the data representation infographic.

  • Remind students that they are working to develop a policy proposal for plastic waste reduction. To communicate the data, they will need to organize it into a format that is easy to quickly understand.
  • Explain that they will be creating infographics that they can use to inform their research findings on their proposal brochures and display in the school to raise awareness about the problem prior to active campaigning.
  • Project the Marine Megafauna, What We Eat Makes a Difference, and Monkey Facts infographics for students to look at.
  • Ask students: What do you see that is similar across these infographics? What do you like about them?
  • Create an anchor chart to record their ideas making sure to discuss the features, similarities, differences, and what stands out the most.
  • Tell students that they will need to combine their interview and geospatial data into an infographic for their project.

Facilitate students’ development of an infographic to represent the data.
  • As a class, review the page Represent Your Data from the Plastic Waste Research Packet. Answer any clarifying questions that the students have.
  • Tell students to use directions in their research packets to guide their infographics.
  • Give student groups time to create their infographics.

5. Engage students in a gallery walk cycle of feedback and revision of the infographics.

  • Have students display their completed infographics on their computer screens. Put a numbered sticky note on each group’s infographic.
  • In their groups, students circulate the room and read their peers’ infographics.
  • As they visit each infographic, have them complete the Peer Review table in their Plastic Waste Research Packet for the corresponding group number. Each group should review and give feedback on a total of four infographics.
  • Have groups cut their peer review table into four strips along the rows. Have groups distribute the strips to the groups that they reviewed.
  • Give each group time to read through their feedback strips and revise their infographics, if needed.

Debrief with a class discussion.

  • Conclude with a brief whole-class discussion about the effectiveness of infographics for communicating this data. Ask students:
      • What data represented on these infographics do you think people will find compelling?
      • How does the representation of the data make people interested in reducing plastic waste?

Informal Assessment

Students represent a summary of their data with an infographic. The Peer Review can be used to assess how well information was communicated to other students.

Extending the Learning

If students collected data from outside the school, they could integrate that data in their representations.

Subjects & Disciplines

  • Conservation

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Create and present infographics to synthesize and represent their data.
  • Evaluate other students’ infographics for clarity.

Teaching Approach

  • Project-based learning

Teaching Methods

  • Hands-on learning
  • Information organization
  • Research

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

The College, Career & Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards

  • D4.3.6-8:  Present adaptations of arguments and explanations on topics of interest to others to reach audiences and venues outside the classroom using print and oral technologies (e.g., posters, essays, letters, debates, speeches, reports, and maps) and digital technologies (e.g., internet, social media, and digital documentary).

What You’ll Need

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Required
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, 1 computer per pair, Monitor/screen, Projector

Physical Space

  • Classroom


  • Large-group instruction
  • Small-group work

Background Information

Infographics are a visual representation of information or data that is formatted in an easy-to-read and relatable way. Visually displaying data can be a great way to catch readers’ eyes and make a memorable impact. In regards to plastic pollution and policy, infographics are a great way to raise awareness while displaying research results. By using less text and more visuals/pictures, complex ideas can be interpreted quickly and easily. There are several different ways to make an infographic, including many online sources and illustrating tools (both digitally and by hand). There are six main steps to creating an infographic: 1) outline goals, 2) collect and analyze data, 3) visualize data in graphs or charts, 4) pick a design template (oftentimes different examples from the internet can be useful), 5) sketch a wireframe (what is it going to look like and how will the information be perceived), and 6) add style.


Plural Noun

(singular: datum) information collected during a scientific study.


visual representation of data. Also called information graphic or graphic.


chemical material that can be easily shaped when heated to a high temperature.


symbol of something.

waste stream

the sum of wastes by a single entity.