Electronics Bathed in Blood & Destruction

Although George Monbiot’s fruitless search for an ethical smartphone has ended with the discovery of tin for parts being sourced through child labour on the Bangka Islands in Indonesia, it has turned up a lot of useful resources that could form great prompts for an MYP Sciences, Design and Economics inter-disciplinary unit on life cycles of electronics.

Some ideas that could be pitched at different levels for students:

  • What is life cycle analysis and what do we mean by ‘designed for the dump’? 
  • How can we create resources that help us appreciate what we have, rather than feeling the ‘need’ to pick up the latest and greatest?
  • Design a campaign or project based on one of the 8 R’s (below).
  • Analyse and evaluate the data in the Short Circuit report. Write a case study or investigative piece one one og highlight facts, issues, problems or potential solutions.
  • Collect and analyse community data on perceptions of need, rate of purchase and disposal of electronics. Do people know what is in them, where their dangers are and where they end up?

One of the resources shared by Monbiot was this fantastically detailed document called the Short Circuit Report, produced by the Gaia Foundation & Friends of the Earth’s Make It Better campaign. It is packed with information, data and images. One in particular stood out as a discussion starter on choices and design:

How would the 8 'R's change your approach to consumption and design? Please read the full Short Circuit report for this diagram in context.

How would the 8 ‘R’s change your approach to consumption and design? Please read the full Short Circuit report for this diagram in context. Click the image to view.

The Story of Electronics is another video introduction that might hook students into finding out more about these shiny gadgets that are permanently attached to our bodies.

For more resources and ideas, have a look at this Storify:

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 11.03.56 AM

About Stephen

Director of Learning & MYP Coordinator at Canadian Academy, Kobe, Japan. Formerly MYP HS Science & IBDP Bio teacher and missing it terribly. Twitterist (@sjtylr), dad and bloggerer.

Posted on April 26, 2013, in #Inquiry, Ethics. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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