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World Earth Day

World Earth day is coming up which opens up plenty of opportunities for exploring STEM with your children. Earth Day helps us to focus on climate change and other environmental issues that are damaging our planet. One issue that is well known and opens up lots of simple and engaging ideas to try at home and in the classroom is that of single use plastics.

 Did you know that every year 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans?

Plastics are easy to mould into complicated shapes, are lightweight, flexible, durable, long lasting and cheap to produce! This versatility means their use increases all the time, everything from water bottles and yoghurt pots to toys, car airbags and medical supplies.

The problem is we use more plastic than we need to, and half of the plastic we use is designed to be single use- that is we use it once and throw it away…things like straws, shopping bags and food wrappers. These plastics take hundreds of years to bio-degrade which has serious implications for our environment.

Why not raise awareness in your children around the plastic waste problem for Earth Day? Here are some ideas you could try at home or in school:

  • Try tracking how much plastic waste you create in a week, thinking about where you might be able to reduce the packaging in the future.
  • Re-use the packaging you collect in a STEM challenge where you create something new, like a moving vehicle or the longest bridge.
  • You could investigate plastic alternatives, build flood proof houses or explore the impact of climate change on the polar habitats. All of these topics, along with plenty more covering everything from Slime to Solar Stills, are available in The Virtual Explorers Club Membership.

Making recycled paper

You will need:

  • Old newspaper
  • Bowl
  • Jug of water
  • foil with a few small holes
  • Blender (optional)
  • Sieve

Method

  1. Tear up your old paper/ newspaper into small pieces
  2. Pop the paper into a bowl and pour on enough water to cover it. Leave the paper to soak for a while then using your hands squish the paper until it forms a pulp.
  3. OR pop the paper into a bowl, cover it with water and blitz with a stick blender
  4. OR pop the paper into a blender, cover with water and blitz to a pulp
  5. Pour your pulp through a sieve to get rid of the excess water
  6. Spread the pulp out thinly on a piece of tin foil and form into a plate shape
  7. Pop the paper plate somewhere warm to dry out

What’s the science?

Did you know that your family uses 6 trees worth of paper ever single year? Recycling 1000kg of paper can save 17 trees, 32,000 litres of water, 1,700 litres of oil and 400 kilowatts of electricity (enough power for your home for 5 months). Some companies are also exploring how food packaging in particular can be composted, so everything from your left overs and the box to the fork you use to eat it with all go into the compost.

Recommended Reads

Somebody Swallowed Stanley

One Plastic Bag

A planet full of plastic

What is The Virtual Explorers Club?

You can try the club for just £1 for 14 days. It’s perfect if you have a curious scientist or budding engineer at home but struggle to find the perfect activities to engage and excite them.  Maybe Science wasn’t your favourite subject at school and you just don’t feel confident to explore with them. You might be one of the 97% of primary school teacher’s who are not science specialists and struggle with the confidence to know where to start when planning exploratory STEM learning.

The Virtual Explorers Club is just what you need, an online library of STEM activities (with all the background info, how to guides and videos), saving you time and giving you the confidence to enjoy exciting, practical STEM for 3- to 11-year-olds…no need to be an expert!

🧪 Science experiments

🥽 Engineering challenges

🔬 Maths games

🧲 Beginner’s coding and more

“The STEM ideas are amazing and keep my two busy for ages. You have sparked their interest into all things science and they keep asking for more.”

“The whole school from EYFS loved it. This has been one of the most successful science weeks we have had in a very long time. It was very simple, especially with all your super explanations and videos. Often the thought of science week and what it may entail puts teachers off but every single of them commented on how seamless and wonderful it was.” 

“I don’t have to struggle to find the words or knowledge to explain things now because there’s a great video and plan provided- something I massively struggled with before”

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