Module 3 • Natural Resources: Case Study: Fact Finder
Activity 3-7.2
Part II
6. Share with students that in the United States, gold is used extensively in electronics.
There are more than 0.0012 ounces of gold in the circuit board of a cell phone.
How many students have a cell phone themselves, or one or more cell phones in the family? Project
Teacher Notes 3-7.2c “Cell Phone Users.” Why were there so few users in 1985? Today more than 2
billion people on the planet have cell phones. When looking at the world clock, about how many
people did the students see are on earth? With just over 6 billion people, calculate the frequency
of those with cell phones (1 in N)?
7. The average time before we retire our cell phone is 18 months. The number of cell phones going
to the landfill in a year is 130+ million—and all the cell phones we have retired in the US amounts
to more than 750 million!
With 130 million cell phones discarded to the landfill the amount of gold (140,000 ounces/3.9 tons)
thrown on the dump is equivalent to the output of a medium sized mine in the United States.
How much is this gold worth? More than \$52 million!!!
Cyanide is a toxic chemical used to extract gold. One ounce of gold creates about 77 pounds of
mine waste. How many pounds of mine waste does the making of just 100 cell phones create?
(100 x 0.0012 ounces of gold x 77 lbs = 10 lb.)
Does it make sense to throw out \$52 million worth of gold while mining for gold because we
need more of it? Does that sound like good housekeeping of earth and its resources? Do students
think this is the best possible approach for future generations?
8. Write Sustainable Development on the board. Share with students that the concept of sustainable
development is about planning how to best utilize our natural resources in a beneficial way for
future generations.
Discuss alternatives to cell phones going to the landfill. Less than 1 percent of retired phones in
the United States are restored and recycled. Why might this be? Generate a list of possible reasons.
Record and save the list for use in the development of an effective campaign!
9. Pass out Student Page 3-7.2 “Campaign Tools.” Explain to the students that your class is going to
make a difference and take action! Joining other GoNorth! classrooms around the country and
across the world, you are going to develop a local cell phone recycling campaign.
The campaign can be local to your classroom, simply consisting of collecting cell phones from
home, or it can be school wide, or an entire community campaign. What matters is the effort—
every cell phone counts!
An important step in your classroom campaign is obviously what your class will do with the phones
collected, taking them to the nearest drop off location or mailing them off for charity!
Go to your nearest Best Buy store or find the nearest local drop off location with the zip code
locator at the Earth911 website - http://www.earth911.org/master.asp?s=ls&serviceid=245
PolarHusky.com