THE FWSU STORY: Researching & Developing A Solution For Plastic Waste at GEMS

Early this year, FWSU offered educators an opportunity to earn a FWSU micro-credential based upon the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Eric Hadd, an Educational Technology Specialist at GEMS, was one of the first to earn the micro-credential based on his work with his students. Throughout the year,  he continues to provide students with opportunities to develop solutions towards the goal of ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

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Throughout the year, as several students design projects using the 3D printer, the first prototypes created can often be unusable and therefore produce plastic waste. Two students enrolled in Mr. Eric Hadd’s choice class, Research and Development Lab, recently took on the challenge to find a way to reduce the PLA (Polylactic acid) plastic waste generated in the GEMS innovation lab. This work ties in with Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production which is to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. One of the targets of Goal 12 includes using eco-friendly production methods and reducing the amount of waste.  

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Inspired by Precious Plastic’s challenge to start collaborating and boost plastic recycling,  Jason and Logan began work to modify and improve plastic smoothies, a method of turning 3D printer plastic into useable items. Precious Plastic is a global community of hundreds of people working towards a solution to plastic pollution.  This organization works to reduce plastic waste and create tools that make it easier to start recycling plastic.

During their choice class, the boys developed a practical, useable procedure to repurpose the PLA Plastic waste into a usable sheet of plastic. These sheets of plastic can then be used by other students to design with using the laser cutter. Students have already made jewelry items using the recycled plastic.

Documenting all of their trials, errors, and successes, in their research and development journal, the team is working to create a user-friendly procedure to be published on the Instructables website. Instructables is a website specializing in user-created and uploaded do-it-yourself projects, which other users can comment on and rate for quality.


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