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At the Dump: Teacher’s Edition
At the Dump
How Do Landfills Work?
Objective: Students will make a simulated landfill.
Vocabulary: Landfill, decompose, organic, inorganic
Procedure: Divide students into groups of 3-5.
Teacher-Provided Materials needed per 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.
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 students where things go when they are thrown away.
2. Discuss landfills by exploring various related websites. Note from LessonPlansPage.com: Many of the websites below have been taken down by their owners. I apologize for the inconvenience, but we have no control over other websites.
4. Ask students to describe disadvantages of landfills and brainstorm with students 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.