Becky Havens Dorothy Starks Marti Weihe

Class: Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry

Materials: Paper and pencil, calculators helpful


Recycling has become a way of life in many schools. This project could be used to reinforce recycling already in place. Have students calculate the amount of paper, by weight, collected in recycling areas during a given period, say one week. This figure will give them an estimate to extend over the year. Data can be collected in a number of ways. Students may attempt to take samples from various locations on different days or they may check every location on every day of the week. Students will need to work on the weight of a small volume or attempt to weigh the collecting containers with and without the recycled materials inside and make assumptions that will extend to every like container in the building. After determining the amount of collected, recycled paper, the students should determine the number of trees saved by the recycling process and should also determine how much the school makes or loses by recycling. Algebra I students will need the formulas for the volumes of various containers or be given alternate ways to obtain volumes, such as, using a marked beaker from the lab and filling their container with water. Students should be able to find a variety of scales on which to weigh their samples.


1. Students should write clear assumptions, i.e., 1. The weight of all like containers is assumed to be equal. 2. The amount of paper collected in one English class is assumed to be the same as would be collected in every other English class.

2. Students should write a detailed plan of how they will obtain their data, i.e., 1. Volume converted to weight; 2. Direct weighing; 3. Sampling.

3. Students should show all equations and/or formulas used.

4. Students should indicate their conclusion.

5. Students should point out any weaknesses or strengths; i.e., 1. The paper collected every week of the school year may not be the same; 2. All data were weighed on two different scales to insure accuracy.


Assumptions 15 points

Plan to acquire data 15 points

Execution of plan 10 points

Strengths and weaknesses 10 points

Presentation 15 points

Quiz 35 points


If there is not a recycling plan in place, the students could place boxes in all or selected classrooms and estimate a savings from this sampling. This could be accomplished in your individual classroom. The project could also be used to encourage putting a recycling program in place. Students could track and estimate the recycling of drink cans, cardboard, or other items in your building.

Students should research the amount of paper made from a single tree and estimate the number of trees saved by their school. Students could find out the cost to the school in recycling. Students could research the square feet of aluminum or tin made from their recycled cans. Students could contact other schools in their system to determine the amount of recycled goods in the corporation.

Funded in part by the National Science Foundation and Indiana University 1995