Saturday, May 7, 2011

Use Less by Makedo-ing More, Part 2

Student-made Makedo windmill using plastic cups, styrofoam and connectors - video below

We're continuing to study STEM recycling concepts using Makedo as an activity focus. Last week we studied the life cycle of cardboard and made Makedo creations with reusables, this week we covered glass and made more Makedo-dles.

Teaching this class is like playing one big game of Balderdash. If I had to guess what words like "cullet" and "vitrification" meant I would have guessed, in order, a fish and a wine process. No points for me - want to take a try yourself, just pause before reading on...

Glass is one example of an amorphous solid, which is just a fancypants way of saying it doesn't have structure like a crystal. Glass' primary raw material is sand, or silica (SiO2) which is heated and combined with additives to make different types of glass. (I can't help sharing that when lighting strikes sand the intense heat instantaneously forms lightning glass, or fulgurite - it's like petrified lightning!)

Just like water, when glass turns from a solid into a liquid through heat it's called melting. But glass gets its own awesome word, "vitrification", for the change from liquid back to solid glass. Really, at room temperature glass is as frozen as we would be at -50 Celsius. Next time you look through a pane of glass or at a bottle, see a frozen completely reusable liquid!

Glass can withstand this change back and forth from liquid to solid an unending amount of times, which is why it's so good to recycle. So "cullet" is not a bottom-feeding fish, it's crushed glass that's ready to recycle by adding more raw materials and reheating.

My students' earth-friendly activity was to use Makedo to design an object with recyclable parts that moved on their own in the wind. We ran out of time for all groups to complete a working model, but there was one notable success:

excellent work, Zach and teammates!

If you want to learn more, check out the following links:

Video for how glass is recycled

Listing of everything that is recyclable in the city of Charlottesville, VA

Household hazardous waste disposal guide locally

Corning Museum of Art's website with tons of fun pictures and explanations:


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