Return to SMILE Plus IndexRecycling Math

Michelle Jones Morgan Park High School

1744 W. Pryor Ave.

Chicago Il 60643

(312) 535-2550

Bob Foote Disney SchoolObjectives:

The teachers and students will have experience applying mathematics to

environmental problems. This will include classification, weight and

percentages of types of garbage, using a map with a scale to estimate distances,

using containers to measure areas, and identification of plastics using SPI

codes.Materials Needed:

Activity I

Garbage, balances

Activity II

String, maps, rulers

Activity III

Individual and economy sized containers, rulers

Activity IV

Plastic containers in each of the seven SPI codes (on the bottom of container

inside of the three arrows).

Strategy:

Activity I

Given a bag of garbage, students will sort the materials into the categories of

paper and cardboard, glass, metal, plastic, and other. Food and yard wastes

should be removed prior to the lesson. After separation of the garbage, the

student should determine the weight of each category of garbage. After weight

determination, students should calculate the percentage of the total weight for

each category of garbage. To find the percentages first divide the weight of

each type of garbage by the total weight of all of the garbage, and then

multiply this number by 100 to convert the decimal to a percentage.

Activity II

Distribute maps of the East coast and direct the students to follow the route of

the Mobro 4000 (garbage barge). The route began in Islip, NY and went to

Morehead City, NC then to Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas,

Mexico, Belize, the Bahamas and then back to New York. First have students

estimate the distance the barge travelled and then, using the scale on the map

have students measure the distance (on the water only) the barge travelled.

Have students discuss the environmental impact of such a trip and what it tells

us about the problems of solid waste.

Activity III

Using individual and economy sized containers, (cereal boxes, milk cartons, soap

boxes, vegetable cans) that have been opened and cleaned,

1. Have students measure the area of each container [rectangle= length X

width].

2. Have students record the volume of each container that is printed on

the label.

3. Calculate the difference in the amount of packaging used to hold the same

amount of product.

4. Calculate the number of small cartons needed to have the same amount of

product as the large carton.

5. Which package is more environmentally friendly and why?

Activity IV

Have students sort a large variety of plastics by the SPI codes found on the

bottom inside of the triangle. Once the products are in the seven

categories, have the students determine which categories have the most products

and discuss if this has anything to do with the Chicago Blue Bag Programs

limitations of plastics 1 and 2 only. Have students try to find exclusive

physical or behavioral properties of each category of plastic. Tests can be

done to test transparency, creases when folded, squeaks when rubbed, smooth or

textured sides, etc.Performance Assessment:

Students will be graded based upon ability to perform the correct calculations

according to the standard rubric.Conclusions:

Students should have learned about the impact of the volumes of garbage that we

introduce into the solid waste stream. Students will also have an opportunity

to practice mathematical calculations.References: Using Mathematics From Your Backyard To the Great Wall. Everyday

Learning Corporation. Evanston, IL.