Rubbish Science activities can be used either be as stand alone or as part of a greater project. So for example you can run a ‘Find the best way to grow a plant in a bottle’ or a full Micro-gardening program. It is about finding what is appropriate for the needs. It is the scientific thinking that we expect to make the biggest difference and the ability to transfer this across to other projects, rather than the outcomes of the activities themselves. There will be full blogs for each of these projects so please subscribe if you want more information and feel free to add ideas.  

Plastic Bag Football Challenge

Most Rubbish Science activities provide benefits for health, nutrition and water. Plastic bag footballs might not appear to fit in these categories but can provide for the mental health of the students. The full range of problem-solving ideas developed in other activities can be developed with the challenge: Make the best Rubbish Football The first…

Heat shrink Cordage from Plastic Bottles

Overview: Plastic Bottles can be ‘spiralised ‘ in that a length of cordage can be cut using a knife blade on a jig Note: There is a significant risk of being cut by the blade if it is not installed safely! This cordage is very strong and can be made even stronger by weaving several lengths together. …

Plastic Bag to Fishing Line /Net

Overview: Plastic bags can be turned into fishing lines easily if it is cut into strips and pulled very slowly and twisted. The strips must be cut as straight as possible – Small ‘nicks’ in the edges will cause it to break. The lines produced can be used for a variety of things and even…

Keyhole Garden with Composter

Overview A very water, nutrient and space efficient concept. The keyhole garden is easy to construct. A cylinder of wire mesh is put in the middle of a keyhole-shaped wall made from bricks, stones or glass or plastic bottles. Topsoil or compost  (See the composter) is then is added and plants can be planted as…

Tippy Tap – Handwash Station that no one touches

Overview: A Tippy Tap is a simple concept that can have a huge impact on hygiene and the spread of disease.  A bottle of clean water is mounted so that small amounts can be poured at a time without dirty hands touching the bottle.  Clean water can be taken from the Handwash Steriliser or sea…

Plastic Bottle: Activated Charcoal Water Filter

Overview: Activated charcoal can be made by using lemon juice, salt water or bleach to charcoal that can itself be made easily and freely. This opens the possibility of making effective water filtration systems, transforming lives without having to buy anything.  The Water must still be boiled before drinking Task: You are to create an…

LED Bottle of Light

Overview: Plastic Bottles can be installed into the grooves of houses in order to transmit light inside without the need for electricity. Recent developments in LED, Solar cells and rechargeable batteries mean we can take this further and install solar rechargeable lights in houses but also in alleyways and thoroughfares. Having lit areas can significantly…

Bottle of light

Overview: This is based on the fantastic Litre or Liter of lLght idea of putting plastic bottles in the roofs of tin houses which have no electricity in order to transfer light into the house. What are the best bottles and systems to use? Equipment Provided: Plastic bottles, cardboard box, light meter/mobile phone, scissors, tape…

Stacked Bottle Gardens

Overview: Stacking bottles on top of each other and filling them with soil creates a very water and space efficient place for plants to grow. The question is what are the optimum conditions for plants to grow? Task: You are to create a vertical bottle garden to grow the highest crop of spinach (or other) …

Bottle / Tub  Gardens  – Self watering systems (reservoir)

Overview: Plants in traditional pots lose a great deal of water through the bottom of the pot as well as through evaporation from the top of the soil. There are designs which allow a water reservoir at the bottom of the container that the roots can access either by using a wick that transfers water…

Plastic Bottle Watering Can / Drip System

Overview: Making a hole or holes in a bottle top can create a sprinkler system. However it isn’t easy to control the speed of the flow of the water as the pressure inside the bottle varies depending on how full the bottle is. What can you do to create a system that only needs refilling…

Insulated Flask

Overview: There are many ways of making a container that keeps things hot or cold. Silvered films such as the inside of crisp packets can reflect thermal radiation. Black objects absorb radiation and so get hotter if left in the sunshine. Substances that trap air, such as cardboard or bubble wrap reduce heat loss by…

Warm Sterile Water Hand Wash Station

Overview: Washing hands is far more effective with warm water than cold. In some areas warm water is not available for washing hands so how can we create a system from rubbish? Bacteria colonies can grow much faster in warm water so we could make the problem worse. You can use Solar Water Disinfection  (SoDis…

Plastic Bottle Fly / Mosquito traps /Slug traps

Overview: Flies can cause the spread of diseases. Mosquitos carry Malaria and Dengue Fever. You can create simple fly traps in seconds, but then spend a lifetime optimising the design Task: You are to create a fly or mosquito trap out of a plastic bottle or other rubbish. You then need to take steps to…

Solar Stills

Overview: Solar stills use sunlight in order to evaporate dirty or salty water and then condense the water vapour to be collected. There are many models for this but which one is the most effective? Note: It is probably worth doing the Insulated container and the hand washing station before you do this experiment as…

Rubbish Composting

Overview: Compost is made from the breaking down of organic (natural) material. It is not the same as rotting. Leaves, uncooked food waste and cardboard can be broken down by bacteria and worms in order to produce nutrient-rich soil for plants to grow. Air is needed as the bacteria and worms need oxygen. Rotting which…

3 Types of Bottle Plant Watering Systems and the Science Behind Them

Watering plants in terracotta pots is a hugely water inefficient as well as time-consuming. Water is lost due to evaporation from the soil and through the terracotta as well as running out through the bottom of the pot.  There are better systems available and we will consider three types: You could just set up all three…