Recently a second group of Bishop Kearney students attended a Jesuit Basecamp Expeditionaries Project-Based Learning Initiative at Fordham University. The students were challenged to think about some of the most important problems facing our world today and come up with a creative solution to one of them. They engaged in different processes designed to help them narrow down their topic and choose their user.
Our students chose to focus on the problem of plastic waste in the ocean. Asked to speak for the disenfranchised, they created a user from a small Mexican coastal village who is struggling to feed and provide for his family because the fish he needs to catch are dying from plastic pollution in the sea. The students did a beautiful job understanding and expressing the plight of this fisherman and coming up with an exciting and innovative solution to his problem: a new kind of plastic-alternative material made from a plant-based product that would dissolve in salt water. Their research led them to a particular kind of leaf that would be excellent for this, as well as a harmless and biodegradable bonding agent that would dissolve in salt water. Their product was a bottle that would separate in the water and actually provide food for fish, not only leaving them unharmed but actually helping them to flourish. This, in turn, would increase the amount of fish that the fisherman could catch, enabling him to provide for his family.
“Our goal with these initiatives is to expose our students to parts of the world and real life problems they might not otherwise know about,” said Dr. Margaret Minson, Kearney’s Head of School. “We want them to strengthen their active learning skills, by using tools and techniques to bring conceptual challenges to life in real, relevant ways.”