Does it biodegrade? Experiment results are in!

Real life science experiments

In early March Grade 5 + 6 buried four items to test their biodegradability as part of our biodiversity studies. The items that we buried were a plastic spoon, a plastic bag, a banana skin and a paper towel.

Six weeks after burying items in the soil, it was time to see the results of our experiment. The students took turns using the shovel to dig in the location of each item. We started with the plastic spoon, we dug where we had buried it and soon found it. After inspection, we saw that the plastic spoon had not biodegraded at all, the spoon was intact.

Next was the banana skin, we dug deep into the soil of where it had been, it was nowhere to be seen. The students were amazed that the microorganisms and detritivores in the soil could really have completely biodegraded the banana skin, but sure enough there was no trace left.

The plastic bag was next in line, the students dug into the earth and soon found it. Together we inspected it for holes, it showed no signs of biodegrading .

Last to inspect was the paper towel. We dug into the earth where it had been buried and found that the paper towel was no longer visible. We found some particles of the paper towel in tiny pieces in the area around where the we had buried it.

The students were in awe at the power of nature in biodegrading that the banana skin and paper towel into the soil. In addition, they now think differently about the overuse of disposable plastic items in the modern world and were eager to learn about biodegradable alternatives. A successful experiment!

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