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Waste Matters!

Waste Matters!

Essential questions: 
What is waste?
What happens to the things we throw away?
What is recycling?
How does nature recycle?
What are the 3Rs?
What are some ways we can reduce, reuse, and recycle things we normally throw away?
How does reducing our waste help the environment?

MODULE OVERVIEW: (Estimated total time needed: About four 45-minute class periods)
This module includes the following lessons:

Lesson 1: Eco-Activity: Bin, Bin, Drop the Trash In! (Estimated time needed: 45–55 minutes)
In this lesson, “Litter Villain” sneaks into the classroom when students are away and spreads (carefully prepared) litter all over the place. When students return, they use their senses to observe the classroom and express how they feel about the litter. They don plastic gloves and work together to pick up the trash. Then, as a class, they investigate four categories of litter: plastic, paper, aluminum, and plant materials that can be composted. They identify the characteristics of each category by observing the size, color, texture, weight, and smell of sample items. Then they work in teams to dispose of all the trash in the room in the proper recycling or trash bins, thereby defeating Litter Villain. The lesson concludes with a presentation that wraps up the basic concept of waste, including where it comes from, how much we generate, how it can be a big problem if it builds up, and how recycling can help.

Lesson 2: Eco-Activity: Nature’s Recyclers (Estimated time needed: Two parts consisting of 40–45 minutes each)
In this lesson, students look below the surface of the natural world to catch a glimpse of nature’s recyclers. They learn how organisms in nature help dead plants and animals rot and turn into something useful. They learn the term decomposer and look at several examples of common decomposers. Students then work in teams to create dioramas that show places nature’s recyclers might be found in a forest setting.

Lesson 3: Eco-Activity: Something from Nothing (Estimated time needed: 45 minutes)
In this lesson, students learn a new and exciting way to limit the amount of waste they produce: they can reuse it for something completely different! With an old egg carton, students create something new and fun and see the possibilities in making something from nothing! They also learn the concept of the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) via a lively tune that will get them singing along.