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  • This activity supports students to use their senses to closely observe and identify a range of properties in order to classify items for different purposes. The activity can be done as a whole-class activity with the teacher recording observations or in small groups with students recording their observations.

    The article Observation and science has tips on how to expand students’ observation skills.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • make close observations using a range of senses
    • record their data in a table to support comparisons
    • use a variety of ways to group items on the basis of similarities in their properties.

    During this activity, students will examine a range of recycling items, identify and record the properties and then explore a range of ways of classifying the items.

    During this activity, the teacher will support students to make scientific observations and to make classification decisions based on the data collected.

    Equipment required:

    • Resin identification code chart
    • Samples of plastic and glass items, including used or ‘rubbish’ versions of the same items – for example, an intact plastic bag and a torn one
    • Hula hoops or similar (optional)

    Download the Word file (see link below).

    Nature of science

    Students will engage in investigating in science, developing their skills of scientific observation, recording their data and using it in classifying the recycling options for items.

    Related content

    Building Science Concepts: Rubbish has information on the science concepts that underpin student understanding about how we classify materials, alternative conceptions about rubbish and a curation of resources about this topic.

    Use Thinking about plastic – planning pathways, which includes our interactive planning pathway, to begin a cross-curricular look at plastics.

    In the activity Plastic – reuse, recycle or rubbish game, students have to sort plastic items into three categories: reuse, recycle and rubbish. The game encourages students to observe and consider how they use and reuse plastics in their everyday lives.

      Published 7 March 2022 Referencing Hub articles
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