Closing the Loop: Toward a Circular Economy Unit driving question: How can we make our economy more circular, and why does it matter? 

Spread the Word to Make an Impact Lesson driving question: How can we create a culture of battery recycling in our community?


  1. Welcome community guests to your classroom and launch the Video Challenge Festival.
  • Provide name tags for each stakeholder, student, and yourself.
  • Facilitate introductions (or have a student facilitate, depending on the roles they decided on at the end of the Create Your Video Challenge activity), having students and external guests introducing themselves.
  • Prompt students to explain the reason for embarking on their project and key highlights from what they learned about the circular economy and lithium-ion batteries.
    • If the timing of the festival is around National Battery Day on February 18 or International E-Waste Day on October 14, be sure to promote these dates and associated local events.
  • Explain the format for viewing the Video Challenges, including any hashtags associated with the event and how audience members can access and share the videos on social media.
    • If students created the optional user survey in the Peer Review: Video Storyboard activity, share the survey results as a way to introduce the problem of lithium-ion battery use and disposal in the local community.


  1. Have each project group present their video challenges and respond to feedback.
  • Distribute copies of the Closing the Loop Video Challenge Audience Feedback Form. If needed, assign audience members to specific project groups, so that each group gets feedback from multiple viewers.
  • After each group shows their video challenge, model how to ask appropriate questions about the group’s understanding of linear versus circular economic systems, and how recycling lithium-ion batteries contributes to making a more circular economy with positive impacts. Press students to consider and share other ways besides recycling to make the system more circular. Prompt audience members to also ask questions and have students respond.
  • Ensure students invite audience members to commit to e-waste recycling and to share this commitment on social media, now and every year on February 18 (National Battery Day) and October 14 (International E-Waste Day). If students created a digital pledge in the Create Your Video Challenge activity, prompt audience members to access and sign the pledge to broaden the impact of students’ videos.
  • As appropriate, encourage audience members and/or students (see Tips) to share and promote students’ video challenges and pledges on social media.
  • As the festival culminates, collect the feedback form from audience members and thank them for their participation.


  1. Support students in determining the impact of their project.
  • Elicit students’ ideas about how they could calculate how many devices powered by lithium-ion batteries will be diverted from the waste stream as a result of their final products.
  • Decide as a class which idea they think will give an accurate representation; there are genuinely multiple ways to do so!
  • If students need guidance, one way would be to add up the total number of people in attendance at the festival and the number of likes, comments, or pledges from students’ social media posts. Then multiply this number by the average number of devices powered by lithium-ion batteries in United States households, using data from the Digging into Lithium activity, or look up a reliable source for current data. In 2020, this average was 10.37, according to this consumer electronics survey by Statista.
  • If students created the optional user survey in the Peer Review: Video Storyboard activity, they should use their findings to determine this number.
  • In a shared public document, lead students through this calculation. Be sure to revisit it over time as students’ video messages and pledges circulate on social media.


  1. Lead a debrief discussion to reflect on the unit and next steps that students could take to have a positive impact on the environment.
  • Either at the end or after the film festival, consider the following options for leading a debrief on the unit:
    • Collectively revisit the class Know and Need to Know chart from the opening activity, There’s No Such Place As Away. Highlight how students can likely now answer many of the questions that they had at the beginning of the unit.
    • Show The Story of Electronics (7:47) and revisit the Zero-Waste Hierarchy infographic to brainstorm ideas for how students could reduce the impacts of lithium-ion batteries' use and disposal, even more than just recycling.
    • Ask students to respond individually to some of the following prompts:
      • What will you remember most about creating your video challenge? Why?
      • What would you change about this unit and the project? What would you keep the same?
      • How was your experience of working with your group in this unit?
      • How did your group work well together? What could your group have done better?
      • What is the most important thing you learned during the Closing the Loop: Toward a Circular Economy unit?
    • Use a collaboration rubric, such as 6-12 Collaboration Rubric (CCSS Aligned) from PBLWorks, for students to assess themselves and/or their peers on their collaboration skills.



Students' videos demonstrate their mastery of all concepts and standards taught in this unit. Use the standards-aligned Final Product Checklist and Rubric to assess groups’ videos. Optionally, use a collaboration rubric, such as 6-12 Collaboration Rubric (CCSS Aligned) from PBLWorks, for students to assess themselves and/or peers on their collaboration skills. Finally, consider incorporating feedback from the Closing the Loop Video Challenge Audience Feedback Form as part of the assessment of project groups’ abilities to successfully communicate their messages. 

Subjects & Disciplines

  • Biology
    • Health
  • Earth Science
  • Social Studies
    • Economics
  • Storytelling
    • Filmmaking

Teaching Approach

  • Project-based learning

Teaching Methods

  • Discussions
  • Experiential learning
  • Reflection

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.7.4:  Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation. 
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.7.5:  Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to clarify claims and findings and emphasize salient points.

Next Generation Science Standards

What You’ll Need

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Required
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, Projector, Speakers

Physical Space

  • Auditorium
  • Classroom
  • Media Center/Library
  • Meeting space
  • Theater/Stage


Any technology involved in the Video Challenge Festival (such as audio systems or projectors) should be tested out by student groups ahead of time.

Create a celebratory atmosphere for the festival, whether it takes place in person or online, to help celebrate the culmination of the unit and the hard work and learning that students have taken on.


  • Large-group learning

Background Information

Having an authentic venue and audience for students’ final products builds their motivation through the creation process and increases engagement during the culminating presentations. Bringing outside community members who represent their target audience(s) and disciplinary experts into the classroom (whether in person or virtually) also helps students make connections between their project work and possible STEM career pathways.


After presenting their videos, students are invited to reflect on what they learned during the unit. This type of reflection is a crucial part of the learning process that encourages insight and complex learning through synthesizing and evaluating the content and practices that students took on over the course of the unit.

Prior Knowledge

  • Environmental and health impacts of mining lithium
  • How and why to recycle lithium-ion batteries
  • Circular versus linear economies


circular economy

a system of production that extends the lifespan of consumer goods by maximizing reusing and recycling, and minimizing throwing things away.

linear economy

system where raw materials are collected and transformed into products, which are eventually discarded as waste.


to clean or process in order to make suitable for reuse.