There are many learning opportunities in the elementary grades to reuse household materials. Recyclable materials such as cardboard, cans, and bottles can make great building or modeling materials for science fair projects, art projects, and design activities. However, collecting recycled materials for all students in a class can be a daunting task. For example, locating one paper towel tube for that technology project is not too difficult to accomplish, but locating 25 paper towel tubes can be a challenge. Although many teachers often ask parents to help save recycled household items such as cardboard tubes, sometimes there is another method of locating these items right in your own community. Waste management districts through their recycling centers will often save recycled materials for teachers. This is just one example of the many services that local waste management districts offer to schools through K-12 education outreach programs. This column will feature resources and services often available at your local waste management district.
meet a waste management district educator
Ms. Elisa K. Pokral works as an environmental educator for Monroe County Waste Management District in Bloomington, Indiana. Ms. Pokral, known to students as "Miss Elisa," is a regular presenter in Monroe County schools, community organizations, and childcare programs throughout southern Indiana. An educator position is becoming more and more common at municipal and county waste management districts around the country. Ms. Pokral has extensive experience in several states developing curriculum for elementary and secondary schools with a focus on "reduce, reuse, recycle" and other environmental topics. The interdisciplinary curriculum and presentations she delivers are designed to meet state education standards and be engaging to students. The Monroe County Waste Management District has cosponsored an Environmental Education Workshop for educators twice a year. This is just one example of a waste management district educator.
Many states created waste management districts in response to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which was an outgrowth of the Federal Solid Waste Disposal Act. Some of these waste management districts have various titles. In Indiana, for example, there are 70 solid waste management districts (SWMD) throughout the state. The first SWMDs in Indiana, like the Monroe County SWMD, were created via a legislative mandate in 1990. Some SWMDs in other states are known as Solid Waste Authorities and/or Solid Waste Territories. Due to the various titles of these local agencies, it is difficult to report exactly how many waste management districts exist nationally. To locate your local waste management district to find teacher resources, go online and search for your state's department of environmental management or call your county's waste management district and ask for the waste management district's educator.
Educators at Soil and Water Conservation districts may also be an environmental resource for classrooms.
recycled materials beyond household items
Some waste management districts have created programs to link with businesses and industries to collect unused resources, scratch-and-dent products, and surpluses of industrial materials. …