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Recycling Rules: Understanding Recycling and a MRF

Source Institutions

    New York Hall of Science

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Recycling Rules: Understanding Recycling and a MRF

In this activity, learners simulate the separation techniques that materials recovery facilities (MRFs) use and then design their own series of recycling techniques. Learners identify four ways recyclable materials can be separated and sorted at a MRF: conveyor belts, blowers, flotation, and magnetism. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Activity write-up only, images are unavailable.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Large bag of clean “garbage” (many types and sizes of paper, assorted plastic containers, aluminum cans, aerosol and other steel cans)
  • Paper clips
  • Bits of wire
  • Large magnet
  • Wide shallow dish pan
  • Water
  • Large box lid
  • Stop watch or clock
  • Fan


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
    • Technology
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Human Impact
  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
    • Vibration and Waves
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Risks and Benefits
    • The Scientific Process
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
      • Technology and the Environment
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection:

  • Teachers TryScience


  • All Rights Reserved, Keep America Beautiful, Inc., ©2010

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation


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