School Activity – Reusing Rubbish from a Beach Clean Up

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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.