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Science Experiment: Landfill and Recycling

Hi kids, parents, and teachers! Science projects and experiments can be fun. However, be sure to always have a parent or teacher supervising to make sure things are safe!

Purpose: To understand how trash decomposes and to understand the importance of the 3 R's: recycle, reduce, and reuse.

Materials Procedure
  1. Discuss the various objects that are to be buried in your landfill.
  2. Predict which objects will biodegrade or decompose the fastest.
  3. Record your predictions in your science journal.
  4. Cover the bottom of the container with approximately 3 cm of soil.
  5. On top of the soil, create a trash layer by adding various items such as a plastic bag, an aluminum pop top, a banana peel, grass clippings, newspaper, leaves, and so on.
  6. Cover the trash with a layer of soil and sprinkle with water.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 with other items.
  8. Sprinkle the entire pile with water.
  9. Use the spoon or spade to turn over the pile every three to five days. Add water as needed to keep the soil moist.
  10. At the end of 6 weeks or other time period selected, empty the contents of the landfill onto several layers of newspaper.
  11. Examine each item and note any differences in appearance from when you started the landfill. Record your observations in your science journal.
  12. Discuss your findings and if your predictions were correct.


Conclusion and Questions
  1. Which items biodegraded or decomposed the most? Why?
  2. If you were to continue your landfill, how long would it take for all items to biodegrade or decompose?
  3. Why would it be important to reduce the amount of trash in a landfill?
  4. Could a landfill be created in space? Why or why not?
  5. Why is it important for NASA to research trash?


Reference: NASA SciFiles



More Earth Science Experiments:
Air Pressure and Weight - Experiment with air and discover that it has weight.
Sun Angle and Seasons - See how the angle of the sun effects the temperature and causes the seasons.

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