3. Group work with a focus on recycling

Pupils can explore other ways to recycle or reuse what would otherwise be waste material. People in poorer communities do this in very creative and imaginative ways out of necessity. Studies of people like the Khoi-san (Bushmen) in South Africa show how, in the past, they wasted almost nothing at all and made a minimal ‘human footprint’ on their natural world, treating it with enormous respect. How do we compare in modern times? (Resource 4: Ecological footprint gives information on calculating the size of your ‘footprint’ on the Earth.)

What kind of recycling is going on in your local community? Case Study 3 shows how one teacher and her pupils survey the local community for evidence of recycling.

In the Key Activity, we suggest you encourage your pupils to do an integrated science and technology exercise. They work at designing and making articles from waste and sell these at a special ‘entrepreneurial’ day to raise funds for the school or class.

Case Study 3: A recycling survey and challenge

Blossom Ubani involved her class in a tidy-up campaign around the school. She incorporated mathematics. They collected rubbish, sorted and tallied (counted) what they found. This gave them data to analyse. They presented their findings to the school in assembly, showing graphs and suggesting they make a school policy regarding pollution of the environment.

She followed this up with a survey of recycling in the local area. This was again presented in a school assembly. Her pupils showed the soccer balls that children had made from wrapped plastic, and the beautiful, useful handbags and purses that some local retired people had crocheted from strips of used plastic bags. Pupils also explained how the local game park had made their fences more visible to buck by attaching old lids of tins to the top strands of wire.

Finally, Blossom set her class a challenge: Devise criteria to test the balls in a competition to ‘make the best soccer/netball from waste material’. (See Resource 5: Criteria for appraising the best waste material ball.)

Key Activity: Making a product from waste

Here we suggest that pupils work in friendship groups to think of something that they could make from scrap and waste material. The product should have some value or use and perhaps could be sold at an ‘entrepreneurial’ day later in the year.

They might want to look at some old things, like corncob dolls, which were so popular in the past. How could these be updated? What about making toy cellphones for younger children? If you can crochet bags from strips of plastic, what about caps or ‘beanies’?

How will you get the pupils to account for the science in this work? As they work you need to move around the classroom talking to each group about what they have learned about matter and materials. They need to give evidence, or be able to tell, how they have thought about the properties and nature of the materials they use, and why have they chosen them. Ask them why they have chosen certain materials. What are their properties? Where do they come from? Are they renewable or non-renewable resources?

At the end, ask each group to present their product to the class. They should explain why they have chosen certain materials and if they are from renewable or non-renewable resources.

2. Developing responsible attitudes

Resource 1: Renewable and non-renewable resources