National Recycling Week - Separating Mixtures

National Recycling Week - Separating Mixtures

Lesson 5 of 6 in this unit

  • Secondary
  • Year 7 - 8
  • Science
  • Environmental
  • Recycling
  • Sustainability
  • ...

Lesson summary

Students investigate how recyclable material is sorted by applying some of their known properties. They focus on the science behind sorting at a MRF – Materials Recovery Facility. Students explain the entire loop for an aluminium can.

Learning intentions:

Students will...

  • build an understanding of the differences amongst elements, compounds and mixtures
  • explore how properties of matter can help in separating mixtures
  • learn about the processes of aluminium recycling.

Lesson guides and printables

Lesson Plan
Student Worksheet
Teacher Content Info

Lesson details

Curriculum Mapping

Australian Curriculum content descriptions:

Year 8 Science:

  • Differences between elements, compounds and mixtures can be described at a particle level (ACSSU152)
  • Summarise data, from students’ own investigations and secondary sources, and use scientific understanding to identify relationships and draw conclusions (ACSIS145)
  • Reflect on the method used to investigate a question or solve a problem, including evaluating the quality of the data collected, and identify improvements to the method (ACSIS146)

Syllabus OutcomesSC4-7WS, SC4-6WS, SC4-16CW

Time needed: 50 minutes

Level of teacher scaffolding: High â€“ The experiments will need to be set up. Most students will need to be constantly asked leading questions if they are able to make the link between the experiments and the scientific principles. Magnetising aluminium is difficult to explain.

Resources required

  • Magnets
  • Clean steel and aluminium cans
  • A variety of plastics cut in squares
  • A few items of paper and glass cu, water, salt (NaCl), beakers.


This lesson is designed to build students’ competencies in the following skills:

  • Communication
  • Critical thinking    

Additional info

Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week started in 1996 to bring a national focus to the environmental benefits of recycling. This highly regarded annual campaign continues to educate and stimulate behaviour change by promoting kerbside, industrial and community recycling initiative. It also gives people the tools to minimise waste and manage material resources responsibly at home, work and school. In partnership with Planet Ark, we have developed lessons from early learning through to year 10 to help educators bring these important topics into the classroom.

National Recycling Week is held in the second week of November each year but you can recycle all year-round with these lessons which were designed to be used at any time. Click here to find out more about National Recycling Week and the Schools Recycle Right Challenge. 

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