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Stefan Gates finds out that machines can sort rubbish into different 2D and 3D shapes when he visits a vast recycling plant. He speaks to Richard Kirkman who explains how they use different machines to sort the rubbish by weight and shape. Stefan throws some items from his own recycling into a machine like a giant sieve – a cylinder (plastic bottle), a flat rectangle (piece of paper), and a cube (cardboard box). We see that the machine lets some shapes through but others travel across onto a conveyor belt. The different machines and conveyor belts continue to separate the different materials. At the end a machine squashes them into bales that are cuboid of the same size and shape but made from different materials – cardboard, aluminium or plastic. Stefan shows us the new things that can be made like cardboard boxes, drinks cans, plastic bottles or even a recycled plastic chair! Stefan then visits pupils from John Donne School in South London who show him, how they reuse plastic bottles by first sorting them into different sizes and shapes, just like the machines. Then they can make new things out of them, from bird feeders to planters to a whole greenhouse with walls made from 1500 plastic bottles.
This clip is from:
First broadcast:
27 March 2012

Classroom Ideas

Use the prompt given by Stefan, “How many shapes can you see in the rubbish?” as a way of reinforcing recognition of shape. Ask the children to spot all the shapes they can see and name them. You could use a tick list and tally chart. Ask the children if they know any of the properties of these shapes such as number of sides, type of symmetry and if they are regular or irregular. How many different shapes can you find around your school? Classify them by name, number of sides, big or small, regular or irregular and colour. How big are your shapes? Put them in order from smallest to largest or heaviest to lightest.