5th&6th Class are busy preparing for the ESB Science Blast Fair in MIC Limerick.
They are answering a question which is very topical at the moment ' which materials can be recycled and how can we reduce waste particularly plastic?'
The children gave all the children in the school a questionnaire for their parents to complete in order to survey which kind of bins they had at home, whether they felt confident about recycling and whether they used and how often they used cling film, tin foil and reusable drink bottles. We also ensured that each classroom has the right waste bins i.e. compost, recycling and waste. ( 1st class 'Clever Composters', taught us about composting and what should go in and not go into our compost bin. They are carrying spot checks to make sure we being clever composters too!)
We learned which materials should go into the recycling bin and which materials do not.We carried out an investigation in our classroom to see if we knew which materials went into the reycling bin and which materials went into the landfill bin.We were surprised to see how much plastic cannot be recycled. We recorded how many we got right and wrong. We learned what the various waste/reycling symbols mean and we then used them as a guide to know which bins each waste material should go into. We learned about contamination of recyclable materials and that a whole batch could be ruined. It is important to empty, rinse and sort your recyclable material before it is placed in the bin.
We want to reduce 'one use plastic'. Like many other 'soft' plastic, we learned that cling film cannot be recycled. Cling film is popular for wrapping sandwiches in lunchboxes and it is widely used in the household. We have made a reusable sandwich wrap as an alternative to cling film.
We used cotton material, beeswax, parchment paper and an iron to melt the beeswax into the material. The material can be used over and over again, with a rinse of cold water to wash it. The heat of your hand is enough to fold and hold the beeswax sandwich wrap in place.
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Paper is the most used material in our school and the most common item in our recycling bin. We reused some old paper to make new paper.
We need: old paper, a blender, water and a deckle ( made form picture frames and a mesh, porous material): We predicted which paper makes the best reycled paper: Newspaper or Pinter paper. We shredded both types and soaked them in a blender for a few minutes. Then we 'pulped' the paper and poured the mixture onto the deckle. The water seeped through the deckle leaving the paper to dry.
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Casein Plastic: We made biodegradable plastic from milk and vinegar called ‘milk plastic’ or ‘casein plastic’
From the early 1900s until about 1945, milk was commonly used to make many different plastic ornaments. This included buttons, decorative buckles, beads and other jewellery, fountain pens, the backings for hand-held mirrors, and fancy comb and brush sets.
Plastics are a group of materials that may look or feel different, but can all be moulded into varied shapes. The similarities and differences between different plastic products come down to the molecules that comprise them. All plastics are composed of molecules that repeat themselves in a chain, called a polymer.
Polymers can be chains of either one type of molecule or different ones, which are linked together in a regular pattern. Also, in a polymer, a single repeat of the pattern of molecules is called a monomer, which can consist of just one type of molecule or include several different kinds.
Milk contains many molecules of a protein called casein. Each casein molecule is a monomer and a chain of casein monomers is a polymer. The polymer can be scooped up and moulded, which is why plastic made from milk is called casein plastic.
- 1 Cup of milk: 4 tablespoons of vinegar
- A saucepan
- We used 4 times the ratio. We used 4 cups of milk to 16 tablespoons of vinegar.
- Once the milk had heated to steaming and around the temperature you would use to make hot chocolate, we added the vinegar. Immediately, we saw the milk was starting to curdle. This is because adding an acid (such as vinegar) to the milk changes the latter's pH (acidity) and makes the casein molecules unfold and reorganise into a long chain, thereby curdling the milk.
- You should be able to use a spoon to separate the curds from most of the liquid. We used a sieve to drain the liquid from the curds.
- Then the curds are ready to be kneaded into a ball and used as casein plastic, which can be moulded and decorated.
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The children, in a STEM lesson, used recyled materials to design and make a marble run and they showed how a lung inhales and exhales air using a plastic bottle, balloon and straw. ( go to our Science Engineer's Week for more details and images)