AP Environmental Science Classes Document School Waste Trends

Students in AP Environmental Science (APES) classes sorted through the contents of trash and recycling bins across campus on Wednesday, February 13, and Thursday, February 14, for their lab experiments. The lab activity not only served as a learning experience for students, but also as a way to provide Assistant Principal Galen Rosenberg with data about the effectiveness of the school’s recycling habits. Rosenberg is the administrator in charge of the school’s recycling system.

“Palo Alto schools are coming to talk to … Rosenberg specifically about how our recycling program’s working, so now we’ll have data for him to use,” APES teacher Greg Stoehr said.

For the actual lab, students first had to come up with questions that they were interested in answering about waste at the school.

“In terms of the assignment, students brainstormed a series of questions and decided to research one of them, so they chose their own topics,” Stoehr said.

Some of the most common topics included the effectiveness of recycling, the difference between single-stream recycling and composting, the components of garbage, the differences between types of trash cans and the location on campus where the most solid waste is created.

After students sorted through the garbage, they analyzed the effectiveness of the school’s recycling system by looking at the number of recyclable items put in garbage cans. Students were also required to complete a lab write-up, document the entire process and take photographs.