Written by Alana Cayabyab, 6th Grade Teacher, Tsai Hsing School

In BGL’s 6th grade classes at Tsai Hsing School, we have been studying consumption issues. 6th graders surveyed one another to see which issues were the most important- such as overconsumption, climate change, overusing plastic products, overfishing, etc. Climate change and the overuse of plastic products were the top two major concerns for students.

In our curriculum Global Scholars, our final unit is to complete an action project. This inquiry-based project is purely driven by students’ interests. Students decided they wanted to focus on reducing plastic waste in our seas and helping to solve the issue of overfishing.

To understand more about the plastic problem in the ocean, students watched the documentary A Plastic Wave. This documentary is about a surf photographer and business owner who continues to see more and more plastic wash ashore on his home beach in the UK. He undergoes a journey to understand this issue better.

Along his journey, he learns how plastic takes centuries to break down and discusses with a scientist what a microplastic is and how microplastics end up in the marine food chain.

After watching this inspiring documentary, students had the opportunity to interview the filmmaker, James Roberts. Putting their strong speaking skills to use, students ask thought-provoking questions like, “what inspired you to make this film?” Impressed by their questions, James stated that the questions 601 students asked were much more profound than what most adults ask him.

This experience helped students further understand the behind the scenes of making a documentary. 

Deepening students learning about the ocean and the issue of overfishing, 601 students also had a special visitor to class, Professor Trujillo. Alan Trujillo wrote the leading oceanography textbook and was an oceanography professor for 30 years in San Diego, California. He also works as a naturalist for Lindblad/National Geographic Expeditions guiding through Antarctica, Alaska, and more.

Students were able to take the lead in asking questions directly to Professor Trujillo. He shared a Taiwan-based resource, much like the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch List, of which seafood is sustainable and unsustainable to eat. Students further learned how important it is that we protect fish habitats, coral reefs, and create marine protected areas. Professor Trujillo explained that currently only 4% of all the world’s ocean is protected.

In the end, 601  students have really been inspiring with taking the lead on their learning in this Action Project. It is amazing to see them embrace more sustainable lifestyle choices, such as using reusable cutlery and tupperware with them to restaurants to bringing reusable grocery bags to the store.  The more awareness 601 students cultivate about some of the issues we face on our planet, the more they spread awareness to their families and communities.

May we continue to foster students’ critical thinking so that education serves to have students participate in the transformation of our world.