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Engaging Preuniversity Students in Sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment in Upper-Secondary Chemistry Education: The Case of Polylactic Acid (PLA)
journal contributionposted on 2022-08-09, 07:40 authored by Esther F. de Waard, Gjalt T. Prins, Wouter R. van Joolingen
This article reports about a lesson series that focuses on engaging students in sustainability, plastics, and life cycle assessment (LCA). The purpose of the lesson series is to give students insights into sustainability in the context of plastics and to foster awareness of and insights into the benefits of the LCA method. The lesson series introduces students to sustainability by enabling them to watch a video, answer questions, read articles, conduct laboratory experiments, and experience the four stages of LCA. In general, the findings reveal that the lesson series evoked in students a more critical view of the life cycle of plastics. The students showed increasing awareness of the complexity of the sustainability issue at hand. In addition, students used their acquired knowledge about LCA and mentioned impact categories in their argumentation. The lesson series evoked predominantly life cycle thinking, and the qualitative part of an LCA, and might thus serve as a stepping stone toward the quantitative assessment. The preliminary results show that the lesson series is effective for evoking life cycle thinking among students and serves as a stepping stone towards life cycle assessment. Future research could focus on setting the goal and scope of the process to be assessed, with emphasis on the functional unit in the context of plastics, and providing students a complete and coherent understanding of the entire cycle of production, use and recycling of plastics.
stepping stone towardsecondary chemistry educationpreliminary results showmight thus servementioned impact categoriesconduct laboratory experimentslesson series evokedengaging preuniversity studentslife cycle assessmentgive students insightslesson serieslife cycleengaging studentsquantitative assessmententire cyclestudents usedproviding studentsread articlesqualitative partpolylactic acidfunctional unitfour stagesfoster awarenessfindings revealcritical viewcoherent understandingarticle reportsanswer questionsacquired knowledge