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How to Put Together a Fun Recycling Experiment for Kids

If you’re looking for an activity to keep your charges busy this afternoon, why not combine learning and fun and try out our ‘Bury your Rubbish’ experiment? It’s a great way to learn about why certain products need recycling, how different materials biodegrade, organic and inorganic materials and much more.

To perform your rubbish and recycling experiment you will need a selection of different types of rubbish - cans, bottles, plastic, paper, food waste - and a spade!

This fun science experiment is almost a ‘short-term time capsule’ that you can come back to in a matter of months to analyse the way different waste products change in the ground over time. To do this experiment properly you will need to bury a selection of toys, perishables and non-perishables in the ground for around 2 months before digging them up, to study how they have changed. Some items you could include are: fruit, toys, cards, a newspaper, other items you would usually throw away.


Before beginning this experiment we suggest drawing/ taking photos of/ taking notes on the rubbish items you are burying. In this way your kids will be able to treat the experiment as a report - and later can compare their findings before and after.

As with a time capsule, the best option is to find a part of the garden where it’s okay to dig, and you will need a way to mark the spot - as this is shorter term than a time capsule (which can stay in the ground for 10 years or more!) a wooden sign in the ground should do the trick. Try to bury your rubbish about a foot deep. Be sure to use gloves and take care with spades when trying this one out.

 

After burying your rubbish items it’s time to wait! Usually 2-3 months is the perfect amount of time. Then, get your camera or your pencil and paper ready, get digging, and record your findings!

 

You can find out more about how to conduct an experiment like this one here:
https://www.teachengineering.org/activities/view/duk_landfill_music_act

And watch a short video on one family’s experience performing a ‘bury your trash’ experiment here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJUBVErgQ2k




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