Trash Pie: Is Your School Serving?by: Krista M. Hoover and Mary Carla Curran

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In observation of Earth Day, third-grade students were invited to examine what they contribute to the landfill and learn new ways they could help protect the environment. In this lesson, students collected, evaluated, and displayed data comparing the trash generated by home-lunch versus school-lunch students. Students interpreted their findings while generating ideas for reducing waste and communicating their discoveries through a letter-writing campaign. Because of the hard work and determination of a few students, an entire school has been positively affected by their recycling effort.

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Reviews (3)
  • on Mon Dec 04, 2017 3:07 PM

I really enjoyed reading the article “Trash Pie: Is Your School Serving?” by Krista M. Hoover and Mary Carla Curran. This article discusses a lesson that was based around Earth Day at an elementary school with third, fourth, and fifth graders. In this lesson, students collected, evaluated, and displayed data comparing trash from home lunches versus school lunches. After learning background information about landfills, different types of trash, and numbers pertaining to trash, students began their lesson. Students were given a handout to survey their lunch trash for one week. With adult supervision, students were able to analyze their trash for their documentation. All students took their individual data and added it to a master spreadsheet for the whole class. At the end of the week, the amount of trash thrown away by each classroom was determined. Students came to the conclusion that the majority of trash thrown away from school lunches was plastic whereas the majority of trash thrown away from home lunches was food scraps. This data was placed in a pie chart, hence the nickname, “trash pie”. Once students analyzed the results, they were given time to think how they could make a change and reduce waste. After discussion, the students decided to create a waste reduction plan for the school by forming a recycling team. I think this lesson was very successful because it allowed students to collect scientific data but also take that data and make a change.


  • on Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:06 PM

This article states an activity about Earth Day. The authors ask students to do research about comparing home-lunch trash and school-lunch trash. The authors want their students could know that the importance of protecting environment and reducing waste through this activity. This is a big activity that cost students one week to do the survey of different trash and complete the sheet like a “trash pie”. Then, students discuss the reasons and results of different trash in the school. During this process, teachers will help students analyze their results. Then, they created a waste-reduction plan for school. Therefore, students learned a lot from this activity. “students not only collected scientific data, but they also became activists for an important environmental issue.”(Hoover and Curran, 2010, p.56) As a class, students will be assessed by their performance, sheets and their own reflections through this activity. In my opinion, this is a good way to educate students the sense of protecting environment. I prefer to let students to explore science by themselves first, then teachers offer supports or scaffolding to help them understand the new concepts. In my future class, if I have enough time, I will give student the similar topic to ask them explore. I believe that students not only can learn new knowledge, but also they can improve solving-problems skills.

Yu Ni
Yu Ni

  • on Wed Nov 29, 2017 9:49 PM

I loved how this article made trash and learning math connected. First off, the title got my attention so I decided to read the article! The article is about an Earth Day activity becoming a recycling program run by third through fifth grade students. Due to Earth Day, teachers asked students about where does their trash like from the cafeteria ends up. The goal was for students to learn how to protect their environment through recycling. In this activity, students were to collect data on the amount of trash from school lunches versus home- packed lunches. Students were to collect their trash from lunch daily and to classify whether the trash was food scraps, paper, cardboard, aluminum or plastic on a chart handout. By letting students count their trash by hand instead of weighing the trash on scales, they were able to see the connection humans have on the environment. The authors concluded that the majority of trash thrown away by school-lunch students was plastic and home-lunch students threw away more food scraps. The article received its name of “Trash Pie” because the teachers put the data collected from the trash in a pie chart.

Kia Shields
Kia Shields

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