Third grade students are studying environmental science and this lab focused on our use of plastic. Did you know that many scientists believe that there is more plastic in the ocean than fish? Although first invented in the early 1900s, plastic was not widely used until the 1960s. Click here to watch this informative video about plastic with your child. The Wall Street Journal shared our current use of plastic on January 16th: Total plastic waste in the US is 36 million tons and the amount that goes into landfills is 27 million tons. The market for online restaurant delivery has gone from 31 billion in 2019 to 44 billion in 2020.
Trash we throw away ends up in a landfill. After reviewing a chart that listed how quickly different materials decompose, we looked at this landfill that was made almost two years ago to see which items had decomposed. I sent a new landfill to each of the third grade classrooms for them to observe through the end of the year. What makes something decompose?
We learned that scientists label plastics with numbers 1-7. Some of those items can be recycled, while others will go into the landfill. Then we each found the code on 26 different items.
One surprise to many of my scientists was that red solo cups are often not accepted in all recycling programs.
Click here to watch an invention, Mr. Waterwheel, that is cleaning the Baltimore Harbor of plastic and other trash using alternative energy sources.
How can you reuse pieces of plastic? Brainstorming is a group problem-solving technique that involves the spontaneous contribution of ideas from all members of the group. (Merriam Webster) Design teams often use this skill. Choose a piece of plastic from your recycling bin and brainstorm all the ways it could be reused. In class, we thought of numerous ways to reuse this piece of plastic – ice cube mold, paint tray, earring, rock, or Lego storage, cupcake server, and a game to catch small balls.