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Lesson Plan #: AELP-ENV002
Submitted by: Christy Hornung, Dodge City Public Schools, Dodge City, Kansas
Endorsed by: These lesson plans are the result of the work of the teachers who have attended the Columbia Education Center’s Summer Workshop. CEC is a consortium of teacher from 14 western states dedicated to improving the quality of education in the rural, western, United States, and particularly the quality of math and science Education. CEC uses Big Sky Telegraph as the hub of their telecommunications network that allows the participating teachers to stay in contact with their trainers and peers that they have met at the Workshops.
Date: May 1994

Grade Level(s): 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8


  • Science/Environmental Education
  • Science/Process Skills

OVERVIEW: Fifty percent of the solid waste produced in North America is paper. Producing enough paper uses vast numbers of trees and immense amounts of energy. Waste products from the production of energy and from the manufacturing often produce pollution, and live trees help preserve the global ecology. It makes sense to cut down on our high use of packaging in products. In addition, it makes sense to recycle.


old newspaper, electric blender, large pan, wire screening, water, cornstarch, stirrer, wax paper, rolling pin



  • Tear a page of used paper into small pieces. Place it in a large pan. Add enough water to cover the paper and soak for 10 minutes.
  • While the paper is soaking, mix one-fourth of a cup of water with about one-eighth of a cup of cornstarch. Stir until the cornstarch dissolves.
  • Pour off the water in the pan that was not absorbed by the paper. Put the paper in a blender. Add the cornstarch and water mixture. Cover the blender. Run the blender on high for two minutes.
  • Put the screen over the pan. Pour the material onto the screen. With your hands, spread it out so that it is flat and thin. Cover the material with wax paper. Use a rolling pin to squeeze out the excess water. CAREFULLY remove the wax paper.
  • Allow the new paper to dry completely. This may take a day or two. GENTLY peel it from the screen. Try writing on it. Write down what happens.

  • What was the texture, color, odor, and so on of the paper?
  • Was the paper easy to write on? If so, in what ways, if any, does it need to be improved?

  • Do you feel that the effort to recycle paper is worth the trouble? Why or why not?
  • How many times can paper be recycled?