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Science Journal for Kids


8th, 9th, 10th


Science, Physics, Computer Science and Design Thinking

Resource Types

  • Scientific Papers or Reports, 4 pages
  • Worksheet
  • Assessment
  • Video, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus




Can Computers Help Us Recycle More Plastic?

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  • This simplified scientific research paper introduces the problem of plastic pollution, describes the challenges with the current method of recycling plastic, and proposes a new technology to improve recycling systems.
  • The research demonstrates that computers with hyperspectral cameras can sort plastics by type, allowing for more plastic to be identified for recycling and a higher quality product made from the recycled material.
  • A number of videos are included to support a full lesson and the paper includes reading comprehension questions and a glossary.
Teaching Tips


  • Students are encouraged to make small daily changes to reduce plastic waste using the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
  • The resource also links to the original scientific paper and provides a color-coded graph to simplify the data analysis.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teachers must sign up to access the Teacher's Key with answers to the five questions.
  • Review the related resources, lesson plans, and articles for more ways to connect this resource to your curriculum.


  • A read-aloud video of the report is provided, which can be used with students who are visually impaired or for students of a lower reading level to aid in comprehension.
  • The experiment/demo video explains an activity that teachers can do with students to show the current method of sorting plastics using density.
  • Students can watch the interview with Dr. Mogens Hinge to hear directly from one of the researchers and learn more about his work and a career in the sciences.
  • This resource can be used in physics classes when learning about the electromagnetic spectrum, in Earth science classes when learning about plastic pollution and recycling, and in engineering or computer science classes when learning about machine learning.
Scientist Notes
One of the reasons recycling plastic remains challenging is because of the many different types of plastic that exist. Not all can be recycled and identifying which ones are which can be difficult. This research article explains how artificial intelligence and computers may be able to help us recycle a lot more plastic. This resource is extremely well researched and sourced and is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-3 Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
    • PS4: Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
      • HS-PS4-5 Communicate technical information about how some technological devices use the principles of wave behavior and wave interactions with matter to transmit and capture information and energy.
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