SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATION: RUBBISH AT SCHOOL
We read an article about a fleet of research waka which spent two years criss crossing the Pacific ocean, observing rubbish. They noticed that if they found rubbish in the ocean, it usually meant they were getting close to land. Because of this, we infer that most rubbish in the ocean comes from land.
We wondered if the rubbish in our playground might have a similar trend. We decided, before lunch on Wednesday last week, to go and find out. We split the school into 12 sections on a map. Each section had a group of scientists (us!) to make observations and inferences.
We put a red dot on the map wherever we found a piece of rubbish and collected all the rubbish. After lunch we went back, and noted with a blue dot, any new rubbish found in our area. We also collected this rubbish. This is our map, showing where we found rubbish, both times
We also classified the rubbish we found into types of rubbish and displayed this into this graph.
Our observations and inferences:
We observed that most of the red dot rubbish (rubbish found before lunch) was caught up in fences, around buildings and in bushes, especially tussock grass.
We think this might be because the wind has blown rubbish left on the ground by students into the bushes where it has been trapped. The spikes on the bushes help to trap the rubbish. Some children might hide their rubbish under buildings at lunchtimes. Some people might be throwing the rubbish over fences too. Rubbish gets blown from the field into the ditch and can’t be blown out again.
The rubbish is spread throughout the school unevenly and mainly concentrated around buildings and rubbish bins.
We think this is because the rubbish blows out from the rubbish bins and under buildings. We could stop this by making signs that say ‘close the rubbish bins’ in bold letters or attaching string so that it will open wide enough so that they can put rubbish in the bins but also so it closes.
We think that plastic wrap is attracted to fences because it is light and the wind carries the it and it gets stuck to the fences and it will easily blow out of pockets and lunch boxes.
If you don't put your rubbish in your pockets instead you could put it straight in the bin and that way none of the rubbish will blow away and cause litter, and make our school cleaner.
Maybe the problem might be that there's not enough rubbish bins around the school; by some of the playgrounds, on the field and maybe we could put bins around the playgrounds. That will lower the amount of rubbish in our school.
We noticed that the blue dot rubbish was around the ditch and were the kids sit down for lunch.
The rubbish near the sitting area was mabey from lunch time and were the kids were sitting and the must of just drop their rubbish on the ground and not pick it up. The rubbish in the ditch was maybe from some of the rubbish around the sitting area (like light chip packets, plastic wrap, yogurt containers and snack wrappers) and was blown down to the ditch and trapped in the bushes and sandpits.
There may be some problems with our data. Some of the dots may not be accurate as it would be hard to get the rubbish exactly to scale. Some of the pieces of rubbish may have been missed and not written down therefore we don't have an exact fair test. The only time we looked for rubbish was the 27th July 2016 before and after lunch if we tested the rubbish every day we would have a much fair test.
We noticed that there was more rubbish at the playground before lunch than after lunch. The bigger the playground the more rubbish there is. In most of the playgrounds we found the rubbish next to each other What can we do about it? To solve this problem we can put our rubbish in the bins.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
After we made these observations and inferences, we were left with questions as to why people in our school failed to put their rubbish in the bins! Why does so much end up back around the school after one break time? Maybe it is falling out of people's pockets? Perhaps it's the winds fault? Or maybe the students of Waimairi school are dropping it on purpose?
Since then, we have recorded how rubbish was dropped at morning tea and lunch. Basically, we spied on the school! We, as scientists, have completed an investigation into why rubbish is ending up on the ground. On Thursday the 18th of August, we went out at morning tea and lunchtime to make observations of you all, collecting data to find out how rubbish gets on the ground.
We split up into 12 groups. At morning tea we spread ourselves around the whole school to observe. At lunchtime we spread the 12 groups around the lunch eating areas and observed what happened to the rubbish.
We have made inferences from our observations and here is what we found:
At morning tea time, Waimairi school dropped 205 pieces of rubbish. That's 2 out of 5 people on average who dropped rubbish. 110 pieces of rubbish were dropped on purpose, which is more than half of the rubbish we observed being dropped. We also saw 46 pieces of rubbish dropped without the person realising that they had dropped it, often as they were walking.We also saw rubbish being dropped from pockets.
The places we found that rubbish had been dropped the most, were the Te Puna block, the walkway down to Ara Atu and the playground behind room 13. We think this might be because people playing in these areas may not understand why it is important to put rubbish in the bin. We also inferred that since there's big bushes at Ara Atu, people think they can hide their rubbish there.
Also, there is no rubbish bin in sight of the playground in these areas, so people lazily drop it instead. We think that most people do this because they think that they can hide it, or can get away with dropping it, even when they know it is wrong. And they do get away with it! Why don't people take a little walk over to the bin to put their rubbish where it belongs?
At lunchtime, 219 pieces of rubbish were dropped throughout the school JUST during lunch eating time. That's 2 out of every 5 people in the school on average. that is a large amount of people to be dropping rubbish.
From what we saw, 79 pieces of rubbish were dropped on purpose, and 44 were left where people were eating.
Just like at morning tea time, we think that around the school most of the people drop the rubbish because there's not enough rubbish bins around. Although there are already some bins, there only a few, and sometimes not in the best places.
We also think that some children might not be able to reach the bins because we observed the bins are quite a bit taller than some junior children. Younger students also may not understand why it is bad to leave rubbish on the ground.
We could maybe get more and smaller bins to show others that bins are valued around the school but we think most of the kids already know about why we shouldn't drop rubbish - because it will cause lots of problems for the animals in our environment and make our school look messy.
We spotted some differences between Morning Tea and Lunchtime. At lunch-eating time, more pieces of rubbish were dropped than the whole of morning tea time, even though morning tea is longer than lunch eating time. We think that more rubbish was dropped at lunch because more food is eaten at lunchtime and there would be a bigger chance of rubbish flying out of their lunchboxes. Lunch food is also more likely to have wrappers. However we also inferred that people might deliberately litter so that they don’t get in trouble for walking to the bin - as we are not allowed to stand up during lunch eating time.
Under the classroom is also a common place to put rubbish. But the reason that people drop rubbish there is because they think no one will notice. But we did! But if you think that you get away with it, then you are wrong because we see rubbish everywhere, even in sneaky places where people will think you can't see it.
Overall, 424 pieces of rubbish were dropped in the 45 minutes we were observing that day. That’s almost one piece of rubbish per person. If nobody ever picks this rubbish up, then by the end of the week there would be 2120 pieces of rubbish floating around the school. Many people dropped their rubbish on purpose, but also accidentally, leaving it where they ate or hiding it.
We think if we all work together our school can be cleaner by just simply walking to the bin, because just doing a simple thing like that will help to make a big difference. But we also think that during lunch eating time we should be allowed to stand up to walk to the bin to put our rubbish in it. We will be discussing this with the teachers. This means people will be less likely to throw it in the bushes, under the buildings, leave it where they were eating or just throw it on the ground.
We also plan to write to the board of trustees to see if we can have more bins built permanently into the areas that we’ve observed to gather the most rubbish. We also need bins that are the right size for younger kids as well.
So what is the most important thing for you to remember from today? Do not drop rubbish on purpose. It’s pretty simple. Please walk the few metres to the bins, otherwise we will all be swimming in a pool of rubbish.