This is an outline of a Rubbish Science workshop following a ‘Beach Clean Up’ activity or similar activity that a school may have done. It could be done as a scenario that they have been stranded on a desert island and have to create water, food and health security using only what they find. Some of the activities require a long time to see results – Eg hydroponic plant systems and so these can be set up and students report back on their findings
NOTE: There are considerable risks in collecting, handling and storing rubbish so you must carry out your own Risk Assessment.
The ideal types of rubbish to collect to use are
- Plastic Bottles jerry cans – Beware of dangerous contents
- Fishing boxes /crates – For growing plants in
- Pallets (if you can carry them easily )
- Plastic bags
- Fishing nets – for bean supports
- Fishing line – beware of hooks
- Crisp packets
- Anything interesting!!
It is best practice to wash the rubbish in a disinfectant solution and then ideally put it out to dry in the sunshine. The UV in sunlight can effectively kill off any microbes.
Possible Program for the day
Session 1: What’s the problem with plastic in the environment.
- Plastic ingested by living things, tangling etc – Whale found with 100kg of plastic in it’s stomach
- Plastic that tangles and chokes – The plastic that holds beer cans together is particularly bad
- Micro-plastics, how they absorb poisonous materials and how this affects the food chain
Session 2: Recycle vs Reuse
- What is the difference?
- Energy used and recycling/reusing
Session 3: What is a Scientist?
- Scientific thinking and its role in problem-solving
- Using scientific thinking to build a newspaper tower – Note: This activity though not directly related to the rubbish collected has a clearly defined success criteria and all of the scaffolded sections – What do I know/need to know? etc can be completed in about 30 minutes
Session 4: Problem Solving – How can we use the techniques learned to solve problems and create something useful from the rubbish we have collected?
- Plastic bags to a fishing line? – What’s the best method/bag/etc ?
- Making a bird feeder from a plastic bottle –
- Plastic bottle fly trap
- Solar stills – What is the best design?
- You have found some bean seeds – How could a hydroponic system be set up using only rubbish.
Session 5: Plenary and next steps
- What has been learned today?
- What are you going to do differently?
This day can be run at your school from £300, plus a donation from a school event to further our work with some of the most vulnerable children on the planet.