Developed by:  Catherine R. Ney
Subject:  Physical Science
Unit:  Environmental Pollution
Grades:  Middle grades:  4-8

One Pollution Solution

 1. Read Madden's The Wartville Wizard, about a wizard who has a solution for the town's litter.
 2. To discover the difference between a degradable material and a non-degradable material.
 3. To observe and describe simple changes in matter from one state to another.
 4. To record information from observing changes in matter.
 5. To discuss the impact of environmental pollution and suggest possible solutions.

 2 pieces of polystyrene loose fill per group
 2 pieces of starch-based loose fill per group (purchased from a packaging store or Frey)
 4 disposable cups per group
 4 stirring straws per group

 1. Allow children to work in small groups of two.  Fill each of their four cups half full of water.
 2. Place one piece of loose fill, two degradable and two non-degradable, in each cup.
 3. Stir one degradable and one nondegradable cup of loose fill for five minutes.
 4. Observe and record the condition of each piece of loose fill on an observation sheet or notebook.

Discussion Questions:
 1. Discuss the appearance of each piece of loose fill.  Why do they differ in form?
 2. What do you think each is made out of?  Based on these observations, how would you make packaging materials environmentally safe?   Graph results.

 1. Check students' observation record.
 2. Assess students' class presentation of results.
 3. Evaluate students' library research and other information gathered on industries' and business' attempts to make degradable materials (eg, McDonalds, diaper, packaging...)

 Release a garbage bag of popped popcorn pollution onto pond.  What happened?  Did the pollution stay put?