Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

Materials Activities

From its source to you, each and every material you touch requires energy at every stage of its lifecycle. The raw materials for cans and bottles are extracted from Earth and transported to manufacturing facilities where they are refined, molded, and repackaged before being transported to other facilities to be filled with food, drink, household goods, or other useful things for your use. More transportation takes them to your local store where they are stored and possibly air conditioned before you pick them up to use them. Removing materials from landfills and moving them back into the consumption cycle (recycling!) helps cut energy use from this process. Recycling can be done at a local level for a big impact on overall energy consumption.
Comparing Plastics

Most items made of plastic are marked for recycling with a number 1 to 7. These numbers indicate what kind of plastic makes up the item. In this activity, students will use their knowledge of the numbers to categorize different plastics. You can also pair this activity with Hunt for Recycling and explain to students that some materials are more readily recyclable than others.

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Hunt for Recycling

One of the ways to reduce overall landfill waste, is to remove materials from the waste stream by recycling. Knowing what to recycle is the first step to more sustainable consumption.

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Investigating Recycling Signs

Gary Anderson created a recycling symbol in 1970. The three arrows broadly represent the three tenets: recycle, reduce, reuse. They form a continuous circle (more accurately, triangle) representing the ideal of sustainability.

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Investigate: Energy in Texas

There's no doubt that oil and gas have had an unmistakable impact on Texas. It is a major industry employing hundreds of thousands of people today, but in the grand scheme of the history of Texas and North America, oil and gas is still an emerging industry.

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Early Oil in Texas

The lifetime of the East Texas Field stretches across one of the most rapid periods of change known to history. When it was discovered, the Great Depression was just beginning, computers were mechanical, and horses still provided farm labor in many places.

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Where are the Shale Plays?

Natural resources are not evenly distributed across the United States or even across the State of Texas. Looking at the horizon you can see if you are near the sea or surrounded by timber, but other resources crucial to our daily lives are less obvious.

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Finding Biomass Resources

Bioenergy is one of the most important forms of renewable energy and has been employed for thousands of years. Cumulatively, bioenergy represents a greater fraction of the U.S. energy mix than any other renewable fuel source. Biomass solids are typically used for heat and power.

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History of Science

Students should identify a single historical or contemporary individual that made a significant contribution to the fields of energy, chemistry, physics, environmental science, or a related field. Students should explain the relationship between that scientist's work and previous and following work in the field. Special note should be made of collaboration, cross-disciplinary work, and the contribution of any women, minorities, or people of color.

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Careers in Chemistry

Leveraging the Minecraft: Education Edition produced by Microsoft, Careers in Chemistry is a new game-based experience aimed at showcasing chemistry-related career opportunities to high school students. The program features chemistry professor and science entertainer Dr. Kate Biberdorf of the University of Texas at Austin.

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Integrating “Energy 101”

If you're looking for a resource related to complex, multidisciplinary issues in the energy sector, look no further than Energy 101: Energy Technology & Policy.

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Food Container Waste

Some of the containers for pre-packaged food are made of plastic that cannot be recycled and only end up in a landfill. So what can you do to reduce your plastic waste?

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Recycle Signage

Even in places where it is easy to recycle because of school-wide or community-wide initiatives, many people are confused about what and where to recycle. Students can help other students by creating instructive visual signage for waste collection areas.

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What’s in My Lunch?

Students bring their lunch to school for lots of reasons, dislike of school food, special diet, to fit in with other kids, etc. Many times at home, parents have the greatest of intentions when making or purchasing the food that goes into those lunches.

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Garbage, Waste, and Trash

Students will discuss the meaning of garbage, waste and trash. They will then investigate their classroom trash to learn about the variety and amount of trash they produce.

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Paper Capers

This activity focuses on the concept of a source reduction. Also known as waste prevention, source reduction decreases the amount of material entering the waste stream.

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Junk Art

This activity focuses on the “reuse” theme of reduce-reuse-recycle. Students collect waste materials (paper, bottles, cans, cardboard tubes, fabric, etc) and find other uses for them either practically, for a school project, or as art objects.

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Making Recycled Paper

Students have the opportunity to become part of the “recycle” process by breaking down used paper and recreating a new, usable product from the waste. This activity can be messy, as students produce paper pulp and then dry it to new sheets of paper.

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How Many Years to Disappear?

Students may watch the garbage people come by and think that their waste magically disappears. Some may have been to the dump with a parent and some may have a compost pile or “dump” of their own on their land.

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Learn What’s Recyclable

Reusing materials can reduce your cost for new materials, reduce the amount of waste you produce and reduce the energy needed to produce new materials.

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About Recycling

Recycling is when you convert waste into a reusable material. The recycled material is processed and transformed into material that can be reused. It’s old material, but good as new!

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Recycling and Reusing Plastic

Many types of plastic are recyclable, while other soft forms of plastic are not.

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How Much Waste Do You Make at Home?

The average American produces 4.4 pounds of waste daily, including recyclable and compostable material.

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Energy Conservation vs. Energy Efficiency: What’s the Difference?

Some people think of energy conservation as having to be uncomfortable or suffer to save energy. The truth is: comfort and conservation are completely compatible!

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Solar Oven S’mores Project

Make delicious s’mores while learning about solar energy!

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