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PENCIL PUSHERS

Almost everything you use comes from the earth’s natural resources. Even the pencil you write with requires the use of natural resources. But, what you probably haven’t realized is that the resources needed to make that pencil come from different places all over the world. Countries world-wide have varying amounts and types of resources. How we manage those resources can impact the availability of materials we rely on every day…even something as simple as a pencil! In this investigation, we will determine the varying amounts and types of resources found world wide.

Objective: Students will analyze the materials that make up a pencil in order to describe the distribution of world-wide resources.

Materials:PencilAtlasColored pencils

Activity 1: What’s In a Pencil?

1. Observe your pencil and list the different parts of your pencil. Brainstorm a list of materials that might be needed to make the pencil.
1. Share your list with two different classmates. Modify your list as needed.
2. Predict the geographic location(s) from where each of the different materials may come.

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Activity 2: Pencil Parts From Around the World

You probably never realized that there was so much to your pencil. Now think about this: without the varying resources from around the world, it would be very difficult to make that simple pencil. Let’s take a deeper look into the resources needed to make your pencil and where these resources are located.

1. Read the fact card, “Anatomy of a Pencil.”
2. Reread the fact card, “Anatomy of a Pencil” and list all of the regions of the world that have resources that are used in the making of a pencil.
1. Locate each of these regions on the world map.
1. Use the following symbols to indicate where each resource used to make a pencil can be found. Place the symbols on the appropriate regions on the map.

A Green  = Cedar trees

A purple  = Aluminum

A blue  = Latex

A red  = Copper

A black  = Graphite

Class Discussion:

Is it possible to make a pencil with the resources obtained from only one country? Why or why not?

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Currently, large areas of tropical rainforests in South America have been and continue to be deforested for farms, mines, and other industry. In order to reduce the need for these resources, some pencils are now being made from recycled materials. How would using recycled pencils impact the need and distribution of certain materials world-wide?

Analysis

1.More than 2.5 billion pencils are sold each year in the United States alone. That equals about 11 pencils for each person in this country per year. Describe how the production of pencils depends on resources from around the world. Provide specific examples from the investigation to support your response.

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