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Recycling: ISRI Activities Collection

Grades 5-8

Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries


From A(Away) to Z(Zero)

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People talk about throwing things "away." Did you know there is no "away?" In this exercise you'll classify what your school discards and then find new place for the stuff you no longer want or need.

Back through Time

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Today's fossil fuels and most plastic products were made by ancient sunlight. In this activity students explore the properties of oil and its history.

Can It

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Where does a soda can come from and how does it get from ground to table? You'll explore the engineering and design behind this common item and consider its value.


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In this activity you’ll use some great web resources to answer a big question - and save energy as you do.

Mapping Scrap

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Through science and engineering we can keep valuable resources in 5–8 circulation.

Mix It Up, Sort It Out

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Crash! Smash! The recycling truck is seldom quiet. What happens to all of your plastic and glass when it gets mixed in those bins? The answer: science!

Smash Science

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The properties of a material may determine its use. In this activity you will explore the properties of metals and alloys. You will also explore how properties of matter are useful in recycling different materials

What's Inside

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Many of the things we use every day are made of many kinds of parts. To recycle them, we must first take them apart and figure out what's inside.

You Have the Power

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In this activity you'll use mathematics and geography skills to investigate 5-8 the power of recycling. You’ll practice counting by tens, too.



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It's not quite as quick as flipping a top, but aluminum is one of the easiest materials to recycle.

Ferrous Metal

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Do you have a magnetic personality? Your car does, too. More than 2/3 of the mass of most cars is made of iron and steel - metals that are magnetic.


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If you are reading this in school, chances are you are looking at a piece of paper. The average student uses more than 300 pounds of paper a year! If all of that came from new fiber, every three students would use a full grown tree each year.


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Every machine has moving parts that move against one another. Between these parts friction creates heat, wastes energy, and can cause damage. Lubricants reduce the friction when a machine runs, lowering the temperature and maintaining the parts.


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Look in your refrigerator. How many products come in glass bottles or jars? It's likely you will find foods that are very acid, like pickles, tomatoes, and orange juice in them. Because foods don't dissolve glass, it's a great storage material. It also lasts for a long time - and that's part of the problem!

Precious Metals

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Here's a quick trivia question: What part of your car might eventually become jewelry? If you answered the catalytic converter, you'd be right. And if you don't already know what that part is, read on.


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Have you ever been asked if you had a latex allergy? Latex is one name for natural rubber. The special properties of latex rubber make it ideal for many purposes, including automobile tires. You can find it in many other everyday products like mats and track surfaces, mouse pads, and elastics.


Crawford Carpenter: Challenge and Constant Change


Some people are most comfortable when things don't change. Their ideal career would involve the same skills and the same work for a very long time. Others thrive with variety. Crawford T. Carpenter is llike that. His career in paper recycling has challenged him every day for decades.

Tracey Blaszak: Compliance and Conservation


Are you reading this on paper? Or on an eBook, computer or "personal digital assistant?" If you use any electronic device, it's probably new. And like many other people, you have last year's outmoded version of that device in your closet under your bed.

Mike Biddle: Tools for a Lifetime


Mike Biddle describes himself as a "garbage man." He says he chose this career because he hates waste. But while most people try to get rid of things they don't use any more, he tries to recapture them. He moved from traditional polymer research to building an innovative company that is far more efficient at recycling for this reason.

Stephen Jeffery: Finding Treasure in Pre-Owned Places


The field of electronics recycling is new to Dr. Stephen Jeffery - and to most others on the planet. Your parents probably used land lines and large, desk-top computers most of their lives. Today we move through new, smaller, and more complex forms of technology every few months.

Silvana Jones: International Juggler


The key to a successful recycling business can be summarized in the phrase "just in time." In Silvana Jones' company, SA Recycling, that means that they need to be ready and able to accept the products - mostly metal scrap and ore - when the seller gets them to all 50 locations througout CA, AZ, and NV via truck or rail. From there, they are processed and exported via ocean container or bulk vessels.

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