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  • Take a look around you. Everything you see has come from the natural world. This level 4 Connected article focuses on the importance of recycling so that we don’t use up more natural resources than our planet can regenerate and so we avoid sending reusable materials to landfills.

    The article explores the properties and manufacturing of different materials, and students are encouraged to think about some complex issues such as microfibre pollution and plastic recycling.

    Rights: Crown copyright 2017

    Connected article: Turning old into new

    An article in the 2017 level 4 Connected journal ‘Where to next?’ published by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.

    Illustration by Daron Parton.

    Sustainability issues such as recycling provide an excellent way to get students involved in the science capability ‘Engage with science’ and develop their sense of competence to take action for the environment.

    Check your school resource area for this article from the 2017 level 4 Connected journal ‘Where to next?’, download it as a Google slide presentation from Tāhūrangi or order it from the Ministry of Education.

    Rights: Crown 2017

    2017 Connected level 4: Where to next?

    The cover of the 2017 level 4 Connected journal ‘Where to next?’ published by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand. This issue includes the articles ‘Sensing data’, ‘Turning old into new’, ‘Kauri dieback’ and ‘Global action’.

    Photograph by JMacPherson, CC-BY 2.0

    The teacher support material (TSM) can be downloaded from Tāhūrangi (Word and PDF files are available). These materials include the science learning activities ‘The problem with plastic’ and ‘Waste not, want not’, and the technology activities provide examples of how science can be applied to solving problems, encouraging students to be solution focused. Literacy strategies support students to get the most out of the text and include important skills useful when approaching scientific vocabulary.

    Related content

    Plastic is a wicked problem. It’s incredibly useful, but it’s also a huge environmental issue. A helpful resource is Thinking about plastic – planning pathways which includes our interactive planning pathway – use this to begin a cross-curricular look at plastics.

    Plastic is an amazing material – this article explores the history and properties of plastic.

    Want to find out what a landfill looks like? Try this online labelling interactive or paper-based activity and information resource.

    Find out more about the technology that Flight Plastics uses to sort and recycle PET plastics.

    These resources support students in levels 1–4 with learning about waste and recycling.

    The Hub activity DIY plastic recycling plant uses a Flight Plastics video and written resources to design and operate a PET plastic wash and recycling plant, loosely based on the Flight Plastics process. It is suitable for middle and upper primary students.

    We have curated information from the Building Science Concepts Book 60 Rubbish: How Do We Deal with It? for use in the early to middle primary years.

    The Seagull Centre in Thames is a community initiative to divert items from the landfill.

    The activity Determining the properties of plastic and glass explores similarities and differences in properties of recycling materials with your younger students.

    Check out our entire range of Connected articles here. We’ve curated them by topic and concepts.

    Useful links

    The Book 61 Recycling: New Uses for Rubbish supports the understanding that materials can be classified by their properties.

    Two books in the Figure It Out series offer activities that link to the theme of this article: Sustainability (levels 2+–3+) and Using Resources (levels 3+–4+).

    The Connected journals can be ordered from the Down the Back of the Chair website. Access to these resources is restricted to Ministry-approved education providers. To find out if you are eligible for a login or if you have forgotten your login details, contact their customer services team on 0800 660 662 or email


    The Connected series is published annually by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.

      Published 7 February 2019 Referencing Hub articles
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