Elements of Waste Program
Explore what is in our trash by determining the elements found in our food, paper, plastic, cell phones and other discarded items. Study the Periodic Table of Elements and learn to make smart choices when using and disposing of items.

Students will:
- Understand what they choose to consume and how they discard can greatly impact the quantity of solid waste going to the landfills
- Understand the basic atomic structure of elements
- Start to understand how the periodic table is organized
- Understand that the materials that make up a waste item will determine how it can be disposed

Book Your Tour

Use the links below to introduce students to vocabulary and concepts discussed on your field trip.
Slides – words/definition
Worksheet – crossword

Pre/Post Visit Activities
1) Trash Journal - In the classroom, students collect, weigh, record and analyze the amount of trash their families generate over the course of a day. Working in small groups, students learn about standard categories for disposing waste as they sort items from their family’s trash.

2) Bottle Biology - Using common 2-liter plastic bottles, your students will observe and compare how different types of matter decay over the period of several weeks. The activity is built around the Bottle Biology program created by Dr. Paul Williams, Professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

3) Public Service Announcement - Students produce ad campaigns (posters, school announcement, play, and/or movie) that inform about why proper disposal of solid waste is important.

4) RETHINK! Discuss the difference between a want and a need. Make a class list of things they want and what they need. (Rethink the way we throw good things away and buy unneeded items.)

5) Check out the World's Largest Plastic Bottle Recycling Plant:

CA Content Standards (NGSS & CCCS): Elements of Waste Program State Standards
The Teacher's Guide: Recycling Lesson Plans
Trash Goes to School: Solid Waste Activities