Objective: Students will visit another "planet". Here they will learn that water, once
polluted and not conserved, can be lost and that conservation and preservation are
important factors in living on the planet.
Materials: Ziplock bags, bag of renewable and non-renewable resources (see
suggested list), planet plop "Resources" (see list) - brought from home by students,
data collection sheet (1 per person), newsprint or other large sheet of paper, masking
tape, plastic cups (2 per group), plastic spoons (2 per group), class data sheet, timers
(1 for each Government Inspector)
Background: Water is a natural resource that we all share. It is also a valuable
resource that most people take for granted. The quantity of water on Earth is a constant;
however, the quality is ever-changing. Most water pollution is caused by humans. Water
is a resource that should never be wasted and maintaining this resource is a
responsibility of all humans.
Divide class into groups of 3-4 students. Each group will have the following roles:
Surveyor: student that picks up the Data Collection Sheet and collects resources.
Data Collector: fills in the name of each student's role and records data from the
Economic Developer: leads the discussion on what the group members should "do" or
"make" with their resources. Also outlines the plan for the 2nd and 3rd trips to Planet
In addition to group members, there needs to be:
Government Inspectors: Students that oversee each trip to Planet Plop. Their role is to
monitor behavior on the planet. They are permitted to give fines for improper behavior
(such as pushing, yelling, theft, and talking back to the government). They may fine 1
piece of any resource, up to an entire trip's resources. One inspector will also have to
stay on Earth to guard the collected resources.
Materials Manager/Head of Government: Teacher
The Materials Manager displays the bag of Renewable and Non- Renewable
Resources. Instruct the students to compare and contrast the objects. Hold a class
discussion. If the students do not come up with the terms non-renewable and renewable
resources, introduce and then define these terms. Explain that this activity is going to be
about these terms.
Discuss water as a renewable and non-renewable resource. Allow students to
brainstorm their ideas about the topic. After the discussion, indicate the class is going to
do an activity in which resources are going to be obtained from another planet, Planet
Plop. The new planet is rich in resources, but no one knows what resources will be
found prior to the first trip.
Have the surveyor for each group pick up a Data Collection Sheet for their group and
have the Data Collector fill in a name for each role. Have a government inspector check
to see that each sheet is filled out correctly.
Explain that this activity depicts life on Earth in the year 2094. Most of the Earth's
resources have been depleted and nearly all the water is polluted. A new planet has
been discovered that has lots of resources and is completely pollution free. At this
point, dump all the Planet Plop Resources on the 9' square newsprint section of the
Rules for all the trips
Do not eat any of the resources.
Do not break any of the resources.
Government Inspectors cannot levy fines without checking with the Head of
For Trip #1:
Have the Surveyors come to the front of the room. Give each of them a plastic cup and
a plastic spoon. Indicate that their task is to travel from the designated starting place at
the front of the room to Planet Plop. On the signal "Go" they "launch" and take one step
each time they count out "1001". Upon landing on the planet surface, they collect
resources with the spoon, one piece at a time, and place the resources in their cups. A
government inspector will monitor, levy fines, and time the duration of the collecting
experience (20 seconds). The Surveyors can travel at their own speed back to Earth.
Data Collectors record resources that were collected on the Data Collection Sheet.
Have each group discuss what they would like their Surveyor to collect on the 2nd trip.
For Trip #2:
The Surveyor can collect any way he/she wants, but must use the spoon to pick up
resources and must put the resources in the cup. Time for this trip is 20 seconds. The
Surveyor returns to the group and the Data Collector records the data. The Government
Inspectors levy any fines as needed. Share the class data sheet and record each
group's record of resources. Have the Economic Developer in each group lead a
discussion on what the group member should "do" or "make" with their resources.
Outline a plan for the next 2 trips to determine how best to use the resources. Include in
the discussion aspects of renewable and non-renewable resources.
For Trip #3:
The students will have 15 seconds. Each Surveyor can take along the Economic
Developer to assist in gathering the resources. Resources must fit in the cup and must
be picked up with the spoon (The Economic Developer can have his/her own cup and
spoon). After gathering resources, both return to Earth and data is recorded. Fines are
levied if necessary.
For Trip #4:
Trip #4 is the last trip the government is going to allow to Planet Plop. This time, anyone
can go to collect. The only restrictions are that the resources must fit in the group's cups
and the fine for any personal injures will be a loss of ALL resources. The unknown
resource (spaghetti) has been identified as a new resource that has special properties.
It has water as the largest part of its chemical makeup. When the resource is exposed
to Krypton gas, the water is released as pure water. When returned to the air, it
recrystallizes and recharges by absorbing water from air. It can be used indefinitely. 20
seconds will be allowed for this trip. Everyone returns to Earth and the data is recorded.
Do not eat any of the resources.
Discuss the activity at this point. List group totals on the Class Data Sheet. Compare the
totals by items. The following are discussion questions:
Why did you collect what you did?
What challenges did you experience?
What about the role of the government?
How evenly were the resources distributed?
What does Planet Plop look like now?
Would you be able to live on Planet Plop now?
Why didn't anyone think to protect Planet Plop?
Are the damages on Planet Plop your fault or the government's fault?
Which resources are most valuable? Why?
Can you restore Planet Plop to its original condition?
As a class, pool all the resources and cooperatively plan how best to use them. If the
students decide to eat the resources, allow them to eat only those that are still wrapped.
Have the students write and illustrate a report about what they learned from this activity.
Hopefully, a conclusion will be that the future of our planet depends on human behavior.
Go to USGS Eros Data Center web site: www.edc.usgs.gov/imagegallery. Click on the
Earth As Art 1 Image Collection and Earth As Art 2 Image Collection to view our planet's
natural resources from outer space.
Plan a field trip to the closest wind-energy plant. Have your students explore the giant
wind turbines and meet with the experts to discuss ways that they can help save
resources in their own homes.
Non-renewable Resource: A resource that is in limited supply and cannot be replaced
Renewable Resource: A resource or substance, such as a forest, that can be
replenished through natural or artificial means.
Activity adapted from: The Comprehensive Water Education Book
Social Studies, Science, Reading
SD Standards for 4th grade:
4.C.2.1; 4.G.2.1; 4.C.1.1; 4.E.1.3
Nature of Science, Indicator 2; 4.L.2.1
Problem solving, Creative thinking,
Observation, Comparison, Contrasting
Prior Preparation: Tape a 9 square
foot of newsprint or other large sheet of
paper on the floor in a central area.
This will represent the new "planet".
Gather renewable and non-renewable
non-renewable resource, renewable