STEM Unraveled - The Science of Recycling



What is recycling? Recycling is a way to take used materials that we would consider trash, and re-use them to create new products. The most popular items to recycle are aluminum, plastic, paper, and glass!


Used aluminum, like soda cans, are shredded into small pieces so that they can be easily melted and turned into new aluminum items. Used plastic, like water bottles, is sorted into various types. Not every plastic is created from the same materials and each type of plastic is made up of different molecular chains. It is important to separate plastics to make sure the different molecular chains aren’t mixed together.


After the plastics are separated, they’re washed and cut into small pieces. Then, they’re melted down to create new products or turned into a fiber used for making carpets or clothing. Used paper is sorted by type, color, and weight, then it is mixed with water and other chemicals to break it down. This turns the paper into a pulp.


The next step is to strain the pulp to remove any materials like staples, glue, or plastic. The pulp is cleaned, bleached, and is ready to be used to create new paper. Glass has the same recycling process as plastic. Used glass, like bottles or jars, is washed and then sorted by color. They’re then crushed into tiny shards and sifted to remove any particles like stickers or paper. Then the glass shards can melt and be heated to shape new glass.


Recycling is good for the planet because when we use materials, we are taking fewer resources from the Earth. It also means less trash which saves space in dumps and landfills. You can learn more about how trash and recycling affect our environment in our “Save Our Earth” STEM Kit!


This Earth Day, and every day, be sure to do your part and recycle to save our world’s natural resources and reduce the trash in our landfills!



 

GIGIL STEM subscription boxes come with 5 hands-on learning activities for kids aged Pre-K-5th grade. We offer 3, 4, 6, or 12-month subscriptions, with separate boxes for Pre-K-1st grade with age-appropriate activities. We also accept charter funds!If you'd like us to apply to become a vendor for your charter school, email us at hello@gigilstemkits.com!

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