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Recycling: ISRI Activities Collection

Grades K-4

Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries


An Invitation to Recycling

Supporting Material

Begin with recycling, continue with creativity and end with a celebration. Makes for a good collaborative lesson between Science and Art teachers.

Bag It

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The average American uses more than 300 plastic bags every year. This activity challenges students to monitor their plastic bag usage, and explore where plastic bags come from and the energy it takes to make them. Finally, students create their own messaging to encourage their communities to re-use and recycle plastic bags in an environmentally friendly way.


Supporting Material

The properties of a material make it just right for some purposes. In this activity you’ll explore the special properties of latex rubber, and how this valuable material can be used and re-used.

Test Your Metal

Supporting Material

The properties of a material make them just right for some purposes. In this activity students explore some properties of metals and the challenges of recycling materials that are made from more than one material.


Supporting Material

Sometimes you have to take things apart to understand how they work. In this activity, students will take apart electronics to understand why they are hard to recycle.

Nature Recycles Too

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Do you recycle? Did you know nature does too? In this activity, we will compare how nature recycles with how we recycle.



Supporting Material

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.


Supporting Material

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.


Supporting Material

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

Supporting Material

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.


Supporting Material

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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