Earth Day STEM Landfill Activity for Kids

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Teach kids why we recycle with this Earth Day STEM landfill activity for kids. Looking for ideas for Earth Day? Kids will learn what happens to trash in this fun hands-on activity.

Before we teach students how to recycle, they need to know why recycling is important. Three R’s = Reduce, Reuse, THEN Recycle.

Kids can see that items don’t just “magically disappear” with this experiment.
This Earth Day STEM activity for kids experiment teaches what happens to trash that ends up in a landfill.

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composting Earth Day STEM activity for kids

Before starting this experiment it is important to provide the kids with background knowledge. The books we read: books Compost Stew, Thank you Earth and I Love the Earth.

After we read the books we talked about where trash goes. We wanted to learn what happened to trash that ended up in a landfill. We wanted to know if things dissolved once they were in dirt.

How to set up the Earth Day STEM activity for kids

An empty glass or plastic container with lid

Spoons for scooping in dirt to container.

Yard dirt or local dirt to fill up container at least half way

Choose Biodegradable items and non-biodegradable items.

Earth Day STEM Landfills Activity for Kids

1- We took turns putting things into the dirt we had in a bucket.

2- Capt. D. put in the soft fresh pear pieces and a piece of plastic grocery bag.

3-JoJo added used coffee grounds and a piece of plastic packaging.

4- Capt. D. added a snip of my hair.

5- JoJo added dryer lint.

6- The boys finished by spooning all of the the dirt into their jars and sealing the lid.

Earth Day STEM Landfills Activity for Kids

 I asked the students what their prediction was. They decided that all of the items would dissolve in the jar full of dirt.
We checked our covered specimens every day, a week later the cardboard and paper showed signs of dissolving. After a week the plastic had not changed at all. We were ALL surprised that the bond paper was only soft, not dissolved yet.

Earth Day STEM Landfills Activity for Kids

What we learned: Plastic doesn’t dissolve in the dirt. That’s why we recycle.

However, there is no way to recycle some material like plastic grocery bags. That’s why we “reduce” by using cloth bags. That’s we we reuse things. The more we reuse things the less we have to throw away.

Finally, we watched the video The Johnson Canyon Landfill virtual tour for kids. This 8-minute video shows what happens to trash in the ocean.

This experiment is one of the earth day activities you can do at home or in class.

If you liked this fun earth day activity about landfills, you might like this activity about what happens to things in the ocean

Earth Day STEM activity for kids

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