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Reuse, Reduce and Recycle! (1 Favorite)

LAB in Renewable Energy, Interdisciplinary, Conservation of Matter, Matter. Last updated May 23, 2017.


Summary

In this lab students will explore ways to conserve natural resources. They will then have the opportunity to create their own recycled paper that can be used in the classroom.

Grade Level

Elementary School

Objectives

By the end of this lab, students should be able to

  • Identify renewable and nonrenewable resources and the importance of conservation.
  • Create recycled paper.
  • Relate the law of conservation of mass to the processing of recycling.

Chemistry Topics

This lab supports students’ understanding of

  • Matter
  • Mixtures
  • Law of Conservation of Mass
  • Renewable Energy
  • Earth Science

Time

Teacher Preparation: 45 minutes

Lesson: 90 minutes (two 45 minutes classes)

Materials

  • Blender (to be used by the teacher)
  • Recycled paper (ex: newspaper, class paper, junk mail paper, etc.)
  • Water
  • 1 cup measuring cup (one per group)
  • Wide plastic bin and strainer (one per group)
  • Thin cloth such a bandana (one per student)
  • iPad per group (optional)
  • Optional small objects to decorate the recycled paper (ex: glitter, leaves, petals, grass, colored paper)
  • Balance
  • Heavy Object (ex: textbook)
  • You can make strainers in advance for each group to use. These can be kept for future years, or shared among other teachers. You will need 1 flat picture frame, window screen (big enough to cover the picture frame), rubber bands, and a stapler or duct tape. Watch this video for a quick tutorial.
  • Blend a number of different paper types with water (as shown in the videos) in advance to have some mixtures prepared to make the process smoother in the classroom.
  • Mixtures with different kind of papers (newspaper, magazine paper, junk mail paper, etc.) will have different textures and colors. Students will choose from these options for their own paper sample. Having a couple final products (dry paper) made in advance can be helpful as well.

Safety

  • Students should wear proper safety gear during chemistry demonstrations. Safety goggles and lab apron are required.
  • The blender may only be operated by the teacher. When blending the paper, make sure you close the blender correctly, do not touch the blades.

Teacher Notes

  • The teacher will need to prepare some items prior to class. I suggest collecting recycled paper from your school, home, etc. in the weeks leading up to this lab. You will need approximately 1-2 pages of recycled paper per student
  • This video, "How to Save the Earth's Resources" can be used to explain about renewable and nonrenewable resources (approximately 10 minutes)
  • The following videos can be previewed to better explain the process to recycle paper:
  • I suggest that only the teacher be allowed to use the blender. Preparing mixtures in advance will help with this.
  • Choose a type of paper to complete a teacher-lead demonstration before allowing students to begin their group activity. This will help students to understand the process, as you model the steps for them.
  • Procedure (Teacher Demonstration with student assistance)
    1. Someone from your group should take pictures during the lab activity.
    2. Place one to two pages of shredded paper or paper strips in the blender.
    3. Measure and add about 6 cups of water.
    4. Blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until all paper is blended.
    5. Pour mixture in the plastic container.
    6. Mix the water with the blended paper to remove the pulp from the bottom of the container.
    7. Submerge the strainer in the mixture.Lab reusereducerecycle 7 8
    8. Remove strainer, and wait for excess water to be drained. Use your fingers to press gently.
    9. Add decorations (optional) such as glitter, seeds, leaves, small pieces of color paper, etc.
    10. Cover it with a thin wet cloth and turn it upside down to remove it from the strainer.Lab reusereducerecycle10
    11. Measure its mass on the balance and record the weight in the data table below.
    12. Let it form and dry by layering the papers with the cloth separating each paper. Place a heavy object such as a book on the top of the cloth. It can take up to 30 minutes to completely dry while outside under the sun, or wait if it will be dried inside, allow it to dry overnight.

For the Student

Background

As learned from the video, conservation is needed to help the planet Earth, and have resources for longer time. What happens to the paper we throw in the recycle bin daily? How can you recycle your own paper and give it another creative use?

Pre-lab Questions

With your group discuss and record different ways you can conserve resources:

  • What do you do at home that helps conservation?
  • What do you do in school that helps conservation?
  • What other things do you think you can do to help?

Materials

  • Blender
  • Paper (newspaper, class paper, junk mail paper, etc. to be recycled)
  • Water
  • Measuring cup
  • Wide plastic bin
  • Thin Cloth
  • iPad (optional)
  • Balance
  • Heavy Object (ex: Book)

Safety

  • The blender may only be operated by the teacher. When blending the paper, make sure you close the blender correctly, do not touch the blades.
  • Students should wear proper safety gear during chemistry demonstrations. Safety goggles and lab apron are required.

Procedure

  1. Each person in your group should choose a different type of paper mixture.
  2. When you decide on your paper type, collect it from your teacher (you may have to wait for it to be blended). Pour the mixture into a plastic container.
  3. Mix the water with the blended paper to remove the pulp from the bottom of the container.
  4. Submerge the strainer in the mixture.
  5. Remove strainer, and wait for excess water to be drained. Use your fingers to press gently.
  6. Add decorations (optional) such as glitter, seeds, leaves, small pieces of color paper, etc.
  7. Cover it with a thin wet cloth and turn it upside down to remove it from the strainer.
  8. Measure its mass on the balance and record the weight in the data table below.
  9. Let it form and dry by layering the papers with the cloth separating each paper. Place a heavy object such as a book on the top of the cloth. It can take up to 30 minutes to completely dry while outside under the sun, or wait if it will be dried inside, allow it to dry overnight.
  10. Measure the mass of your dry paper and record the weight in the data table below.

Data

Group Papers

Mass of Wet paper

Mass of Dried Paper

Paper 1

Paper 2

Paper 3

Paper 4

Analysis

  1. What can you use your recycled paper for? What projects can you create with it?
  2. What other things can be reduced or recycled at school or at home instead of throwing them away?
  3. Why is it important that we conserve our natural resources?
  4. Did the paper weight the same when it was wet? Why? What happened to the water in the wet paper?

Conclusion

Now that you have learned how to create your own recycle paper, possibilities and uses are endless. You can continue doing this project at home with an adult supervision and pass it on to future generations! Create your own video on the iPad and spread the word!