Academic journal article Science Scope

The Key to Service Learning

Academic journal article Science Scope

The Key to Service Learning

Article excerpt

I probably don't have to tell you that a cell phone is a middle schooler's lifeline. Many of my students have expensive smartphones, yet they seem to misplace them or can be heard complaining that they need the newest model. Because they take this gadget for granted and are unaware what their cell phones are made of, I have my students research the materials necessary for cell phone production.

Little did I know this decision would go far beyond a simple foray into learning about minerals. My students were soon immersed in learning about specific elements, their useful qualities, and the locations of rare Earth materials. Places they never knew existed suddenly became real as they learned how the mining of conflict minerals--which are sometimes mined by their same-age counterparts on the other side of the world--has caused untold hardships on countless individuals.

The effect was sobering. As a result of being tasked to create an informative presentation about the use of minerals in cell phones, several students who had been previously clamoring for a new phone (we conducted the project prior to winter break) decided that they could live with their present phone, while others took it upon themselves to inform their friends, who were not in my class, about the dangers of constantly upgrading to the newest cell phone model. …

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