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At the Dump: How Do Landfiills Work?

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At the Dump
How Do Landfills Work?

Objective:   You will make a simulated landfill in a group of 3-5.

Vocabulary:   Landfill, decompose, organic, inorganic

The teacher will provided these materials for each group:   a large plastic soda bottle with top portion removed or small aquarium, plastic to serve as a liner, soil (NOT POTTING SOIL — it doesn’t have the necessary microorganisms), sand or gravel (to absorb moisture), charcoal (to prevent odors), toothpicks, spoons or scoops for pouring, water, a magnifying glass or microscope and slides, cardboard. 

Choose several organic and inorganic materials to be buried in the landfill.  Two sets of identical materials will be needed for each group.  Suggestions:  orange peel, apple core, newspaper, glossy magazine paper, cardboard, cotton cloth, aluminum foil, etc.

Directions For Making A Simulated Landfill

WHAT TO DO:

1.  Read the poem “With a Bump and a Thump It Ends Up at the Dump” by M.O. O’Connor aloud and discuss with your group/class where things go when they are thrown away.

2.  Explore various related websites.

3.  Discuss with your group/class what happens to waste materials in the landfill and discuss the meaning of decomposition.

4.  Discuss with your group/class the disadvantages of landfills and brainstorm possible solutions to the problem of limited landfill space.

5.  Investigate the materials under a magnifying glass or microscope and predict which materials will partially decompose and which will not decompose.  Write a hypothesis in the space provided on the worksheet.

6.  Construct the simulated landfill according to the directions.

7.  Make sure to date your worksheet and write down the objects you are burying.

8.  After 10 days, uncover the objects from the top layer.  Place them on a piece of cardboard and observe them with a magnifying glass, and/or place samples on a slide and observe them under a microscope.  Log observations.

9.  After 10 more days, uncover the remaining layer of objects.  Place them on a piece of cardboard and observe them with a magnifying glass, and/or place samples on a slide and observe them under a microscope.  Log observations.

10.  Complete the worksheet for the Simulated Landfill.

11.  Write an essay describing your conclusions, comparing objects to each other, and noting the changes between identical objects in the simulated landfill for 10 and 20 days.

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