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Note: Not everyone sees direct mail as "junk mail." In fact, if people didn't find useful things to buy in response to direct mail, obviously, the direct-mail business wouldn't exist. For companies large and small, direct mail has many advantages over other kinds of advertising. In repsonse to environmental concerns, national direct mail organizations offer tips to help consumers participate in environmental protection.

Subjects

• Arts & Humanities
Language Arts, Visual Arts
• Mathematics
Arithmetic, Measurement, Statistics
• Science
Physical Science, Environmental
• Social Studies
Civics

• 3-5
• 6-8
• 9-12

Brief Description

Students track the amount of junk mail received at their homes in one week and use the collected data to estimate how much junk mail would accumulate in a year. Then they explore ways to solve the junk mail problem.

Objectives

Students will
• enlist the help of their families to collect and track the amount of junk mail that arrives in the course of one week;
• use the data collected to complete a chart that estimating the amount of junk mail the family will throw away in a month and a year;
• use the class data set to figure the average amount of junk mail a family receives;
• use that data to estimate how much junk mail the entire community throws away in a week, a month, and a year;
• explore ways of cutting back on the amount of junk mail;
• create brochures to share what they have learned about cutting back on junk mail;
• do a follow-up activity in several months to see whether what they do to cut back on junk mail has had an impact in the community.

Keywords

trash, recycle, landfill, conserve, letter, chart, data, statistics, average, estimate, mail, junk

Materials Needed

• paper
• pencils
• postage scale or another scale that weighs small units

Lesson Plan

Most junk mail goes from the mailbox to the trash can. Much of it is never even opened! Talk with students about the junk mail nuisance. Then ask, "Why do people call unsolicited mail 'junk' mail? Do you think junk mail is an environmental problem?"

Encourage students to involve their families in this activity by asking them to collect all the junk mail they receive in a week. At the end of the week, the students will bring in the bag of junk mail their families collected. Provide a simple chart on the board for students to copy; have them use the chart to figure out how much junk mail their families contribute to landfills each year.

FAMILY JUNK MAIL
Number of Pieces Total Weight
One Week
One Month (4 weeks)*
One Year (52 weeks)*
*Estimated

When students have completed the first part of the chart (above), ask: How might you use the information above to help you figure the average amount of junk mail received by families in the class? How might you use that information to figure the amount of junk mail tossed out by an entire community in one week, one month, and one year?

One possible solution: After computing the average amount of trash for a family (by adding all the junk mail figures and dividing by the number of families), students might estimate the number of families in the community by figuring the average family size among students in the class and dividing the population of the community by that number. (The number of families in the community figured in this way will be a low estimate because many families in the community will be smaller than the average family size in the class.) Then multiply the average family's junk mail amount (quantity and weight) by the estimated number of families to figure the total of junk mail for the community. Fill in the chart below to reflect those numbers.

COMMUNITY JUNK MAIL
Number of Pieces Total Weight
One Week
One Month (4 weeks)*
One Year (52 weeks)*
*Estimated

After completing the charts, discuss the following questions with students: How much trash does junk mail add to your town's landfill? (Or how much might junk mail add to the town's trash hauling fees?) What might be done to cut down the amount of junk mail thrown away by families in your area?

Next, the teacher might share some methods of reducing the amount of junk mail from Web sites such as Do-It-Yourself: Stop Junk Mail and Consumer Assistance from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).

Extension activities:

• Students might create brochures to take home or pass out in the community that provide the eye-opening data they collected/estimated as well as some pointers for reducing the amount of trash generated by junk mail.
• Students can write letters to companies that produce catalogs and other junk mail their families don't use or want.

Assessment

Repeat the activity later in the school year to learn whether the junk mail reduction tips have had any impact on the amount of junk mail families receive.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

FINE ARTS: Visual Arts FINE ARTS: Visual Arts

NA-VA.K-4.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines

NA-VA.5-8.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines

NA-VA.9-12.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.9-12.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
LANGUAGE ARTS: English
MATHEMATICS: Number and Operations
NM-NUM.3-5.1 Understand Numbers, Ways of Representing Numbers, Relationships Among Numbers, and Number Systems
NM-NUM.3-5.2 Understand Meanings of Operations and How They Relate to One Another
NM-NUM.3-5.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates

NM-NUM.6-8.1 Understand Numbers, Ways of Representing Numbers, Relationships Among Numbers, and Number Systems
NM-NUM.6-8.2 Understand Meanings of Operations and How They Relate to One Another
NM-NUM.6-8.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates

NM-NUM.9-12.1 Understand Numbers, Ways of Representing Numbers, Relationships Among Numbers, and Number Systems
NM-NUM.9-12.2 Understand Meanings of Operations and How They Relate to One Another
NM-NUM.9-12.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates
MATHEMATICS: Measurement
NM-MEA.3-5.1 Understand Measurable Attributes of Objects and the Units, Systems, and Processes of Measurement
NM-MEA.3-5.2 Apply Appropriate Techniques, Tools, and Formulas to Determine Measurements

NM-MEA.6-8.1 Understand Measurable Attributes of Objects and the Units, Systems, and Processes of Measurement
NM-MEA.6-8.2 Apply Appropriate Techniques, Tools, and Formulas to Determine Measurements

NM-MEA.9-12.1 Understand Measurable Attributes of Objects and the Units, Systems, and Processes of Measurement
NM-MEA.9-12.2 Apply Appropriate Techniques, Tools, and Formulas to Determine Measurements
MATHEMATICS: Data Analysis and Probability
NM-DATA.3-5.2 Select and Use Appropriate Statistical Methods to Analyze Data
NM-DATA.3-5.3 Develop and Evaluate Inferences and Predictions That Are Based on Data

NM-DATA.6-8.2 Select and Use Appropriate Statistical Methods to Analyze Data
NM-DATA.6-8.3 Develop and Evaluate Inferences and Predictions That Are Based on Data

NM-DATA.9-12.2 Select and Use Appropriate Statistical Methods to Analyze Data
NM-DATA.9-12.3 Develop and Evaluate Inferences and Predictions That Are Based on Data
MATHEMATICS: Problem Solving
• GRADES Pre-K - 12 NM-PROB.PK-12.3 Apply and Adapt a Variety of Appropriate Strategies to Solve Problems
MATHEMATICS: Communications
• GRADES Pre-K - 12 NM-COMM.PK-12.2 Communicate Their Mathematical Thinking Coherently and Clearly to Peers, Teachers, and Others
MATHEMATICS: Connections

• GRADES Pre-K - 12 NM-CONN.PK-12.3 Recognize and Apply Mathematics in Contexts Outside of Mathematics
SCIENCE
NS.K-4.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.K-4.4 Earth and Space Science
NS.K-4.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives