Robotics Team Middle School Lunchroom Waste Initiative

Asked November 22, 2015, 4:00 PM EST

Hi! My name is Liza and I am part of a Middle School Robotics team based in Rochester, NY participating in the Trash Trek challenge from First Lego League. Our project is based on separating our trash at lunchtime into 4 categories: compost (done on our campus), recyclable, food scraps (for producing biofuel) and landfill. We hope to inspire our classmates to take a real interest in reducing the amount of landfill produced by turning this into a game in which the table with the least landfill gets a prize at the end of each month. Wegmans has sponsored us by providing our weighing scale (like the ones used at check-out) and technology assistance by which we have configured a unique bar code for each type of waste at each lunch table to streamline data collection. They have also generously sponsored some of our monthly prizes. We believe that once this behavior becomes part of our lunchtime routine, we will do it without any reward needed, but just because it's important to protect our environment. We plan to share our idea with other local schools and spread the word from there! Can you give us advice or make any recommendations? Can you follow us on Twitter @ACACESFLL?

Monroe County New York

1 Response

It sounds like a very worthwhile project you are undertaking! I think you have a good plan in place. It is important to weigh the food waste and I think the idea of a unique bar code for each type of waste will give you some very valuable data. A recommendation that I would make is to track which items seems to be the most often discarded, and then taking it one step further. I would check with students to find out why each particular item is being discarded. Is it due to the taste, texture or even the "form" of the food - such as a whole orange instead of orange wedges. This information could be very helpful in menu planning - that in turn can result in less waste as well. We are currently undertaking a similar project at one of our elementary schools to find out what is being tossed, but more importantly why it is being tossed. Good luck with your project, and I will definitely follow your progress on Twitter!