Brooke Elementary Garbage Audit

Brooke Elementary Grade 3's and 4's

Brooke Elementary
  • Grade 3
  • Grade 4
Video Project (1 video)

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Our Story!

Have you ever stood at a row of waste and recycle cans and puzzled over where to put your trash? This is a predicament many of us can connect with and one that two of our classes at Brooke decided to turn into a class inquiry. Students in Mrs. Sidney and Mrs. Mclachlan’s class felt confused themselves, and wondered if their confusion was felt by others throughout the school. So they set forth on a journey to explore the effectiveness of student sorting. They wondered: How effective are we in sorting our garbage and recycling?

Armed with a question, Melanie and Shannon started at the beginning: What did their students know about garbage and recycling? (see chart) The dialogue naturally turned to a place-based exploration and students decided that they wanted to “audit” the bins and learn first hand what was happening in our hallways.  This undertaking was about as messy as it sounds. With garbage and recycling sprawled all over the ground and the chorus of “Ew…. Gross!” floating across the playground, two brave teachers and 58 kids set out to sift, sort and critique! It was messy. And gross. And yes, a little crazy! And when things get a little crazy, or you simply need to know if you’re on the right track, you know it’s time to ask the three questions:

  1. What are we learning?
  2. How is it going?
  3. Where to next?

This conversation allowed the students to refocus and determine that a second garbage audit was necessary! Armed with a more controlled environment and firm expectations, the two classes were able to gather some accurate data on the effectiveness of our school waste management system.

Here were their findings:

  1. Many students were using the grey, blue and green bins correctly.
  2. Some students are throwing food out IN the plastic bag and not separating the food from the plastic.
  3. The black bin is a catchall. When in doubt, people just throw it out!

So what’s next on the class wide inquiry?

Students created information posters and presentations. They shared their knowledge with students and staff at Brooke. They plan to "re audit" the garbage and recycling in a week to see if we made a difference.