On December 3, 2019, the students of Ms. Gadbois’ grade 4/5 class set up a (mostly) people powered paper factory, just in time to create some homemade paper for Christmas gifts.
Previous Beyond Recycling lessons had introduced the students to the idea that all products we use have a lifecycle, from extraction of raw materials, to disposal of the product, and all of the other steps in between. The students also learned that with each step of the lifecycle, impacts occur to the environment, such as effluent, emissions, deforestation, pollution, etc.
Making homemade paper gave the students a hands-on experience of seeing the lifecycle of a product that they use everyday. Throughout the previous week, the teacher collected paper that was in the recycling box at school, and shredded it. Then, the students set up two “factories” in their classroom, with the following stations:
- The first station involved the students making pulp by adding shredded paper, water, and a bit of cornstarch to an electric blender.
- The second station had the students strain the water out of the pulp using a screen in an 8.5×11″ wooden form, while gently pushing the water out of the pulp and forming a sheet of paper.
- The third station had the students put the newly formed paper on a towel and using sponges to remove excess water.
- The fourth station had the students put absorbent cloths on either side of the paper and use rolling pins to squeeze as much water out of the paper as possible.
- The fifth station had the students put the paper aside to dry before using.
Before the factories started production, the students discussed the inputs needed (old paper, water, and cornstarch, plus electricity for the blender) as well as the impacts (from using an electric blender). The students were excited that very little impacts occur from making homemade paper, since most of the power used in the classroom factory came from people power!
Ms. Gadbois’ grade 4/5 class did an amazing job of working together as a team to create a wonderful recycled product, all the while learning about the lifecycle of homemade paper. Way to go!