Make Smog

Sandy from various resources   Supplies: Glass jar, Aluminum foil, Ice, Paper, Matches or lighter Directions: 
1. Find a large jar and wash it out with water. Donít dry the jar though, you want it to be slightly damp. 2. Cut a piece of aluminum foil slightly larger than the top of the jar. Put some ice cubes onto the foil. 3. Cut a small piece of paper. Fold it a couple of times then twist it. 4. An adult should light the paper and drop it in the jar. Quickly seal the jar with the foil (which has the ice on top) and watch what happens. How it works: 
The smoke from the burning paper rises up in the warm air. When it reaches the cold air around the ice, it sinks back down to the middle where it mixes with the humidity (water) in the air to form smog. When the weather is damp and warm, the same thing happens over cities that produce a lot of smoke and pollution. Does this happen in your town?   


Pollution From Car Engines

THE CAR MUST BE OUTDOORS Ė NOT IN A GARAGE!!!   Supplies: Square of fine cotton, Strong rubber band, Car 

1. Take a square of fine cotton (an old handkerchief will do) and wrap it over the end of a cold exhaust pipe. Hold it in place with a strong rubber band. 

2. Have an adult turn the engine on for two minutes. Stand away from the car because the exhaust fumes are lethal. 

3. After the engine is turned off, ask an adult to remove the cotton. What does it look like? How it works: 
The dirt on the cotton is soot, which normally goes into the air. When we breathe in, we take this soot, together with car fumes, into our lungs. Catalytic Converters: 
All new cars have a catalytic converter. This is a device that is fitted into the exhaust system to filter out harmful gases and some of the soot in the exhaust fumes. These cars can only use lead-free gasoline and are generally less polluting.   


Decomposition Exercise

Have the Cubs bring several common household trash items to the meeting. With a stapler, hammer and nail, or duct tape, attach the trash to a board and expose it to the elements for a month. Make sure that the board is set up in a clear area where it will get the full force of the sun, wind and rain. At the end of the month examine each item and compare their relative decomposition. 


Catch A Shower

A Five-Minute Project 
Which uses more water, a bath or a shower? 
To find out, plug the drain of the tub and take a five-minute shower. Then check the water level in the tub. Is it as deep as the water you usually run for a bath? If you can convince your family to get a water-saver shower head, you should try the experiment after youíve installed it to see how much lower the water level is. 


Check The Flow 

How much water runs out of your sink faucet in a minute? 
All you have to do to find out is put a pail in the sink. Turn the water on and let it run while you time it:
Stop! What you see in the pail is the water that would have run down the sink in just one minute, while you were rinsing off a dish or washing a potato. This time you saved it. (Use the water you have just saved to water the houseplants.) Next time, you can save water by rinsing or scrubbing in a small pan of water.


Stop The Drip

If there is a leaky faucet in your home, put a container under it to catch the drip. Leave it overnight. You may be surprised to see how much water collects overnight from even a slow drip. It is definitely worth fixing every leaky faucet. Youíll save water and youíll save money. If you donít know how to fix a faucet, you can learn how from a book. Find one in the library. 


Recycled Wind Sock  

Supplies: Plastic margarine, Cool Whip, or similar tubs Scissors and knife Bells Glue Crepe paper party streams, plastic bags, ribbon, nylon fabric, or yarn 


1. Cut the bottom out of the plastic tub. Cut the center out of the lid, leaving the outer ring. 2. Cut 2-foot streamers from the crepe paper, ribbon, or plastic bags. Arrange them around the rim of the tub so that they hang down over the edge. Put a small bead of glue all the way around the inside of the lid and snap it over the rim of the tub to hold the streamers in place. 3. Tie the bells onto a 1-foot length of yarn. Tuck the two ends of the yarn under the lid so that it forms a hanger. 4. Hang outside where the wind will blow it.  


Desk Top Trash Monster

You'll need two paper lunch bags, construction paper, markers, scissors and glue.  Cut an oval opening in the bottom of one lunch bag.  Open the other lunch bag and slide the first one inside it so the hole is at the top (monster's mouth) and the other bag's bottom is on the bottom.  Decorate the bag as you like with construction paper eyes and accordion-folded arms.  Or use markers.  Set the monster on a desktop and feed it small pieces of trash!


Car Litter Container

Cut a piece of cardboard to fit into the middle third of one pant leg from an old pair of small bluejeans.  Insert the cardboard into the center and stitch across the ends to hold the cardboard in place.  Fill each of the two ends of the pant leg with beans and stitch the ends closed.  Punch two holes in the bottom of a 1 lb. plastic (margarine) container and a pair of matching holes through the cloth and cardboard center of the pant leg.  Insert a pipe cleaner through the holes in the container and the pant leg to hold the trash bin in place.  When the bean ends are placed on each side of the hump in the car, the litter container will be held in place!

Trash Bird feeder

There is no place on earth called "away". Things we think we throw away have to go somewhere, and these things end up in the soil, air, streams, and oceans.  When people reuse or recycle paper, aluminum cans, glass jars, and other trash, they cut down on the amount of solid waste thrown away.

 We can use some common items that usually get thrown out to make a new thing that is beneficial to the environment. This project describes how to make a bird feeder from trash.

Materials:  string or wire, 1-2 inch long rock, scissors, metal cutters or pliers, markers or paints, colored paper, old buttons, bottle caps etc. for decoration, empty container (milk carton, plastic pop bottle, steel coffee can), -OR- empty paper towel roll plus an aluminum pie pan


Set up a table to use as a project center. On it place: scissors, tape, glue, paper, string, paint, markers, nails, hammers, and other useful items for building with trash.

Make the basic bird feeder. There are several methods, some suggestions:


Observing the Influence of Acid Rain on Plant Growth

Acid rain most often damages plants by washing away nutrients and by poisoning the plants with toxic metals. It can, however, have direct effects on plants as well. In this experiment you will observe one of the direct effects of acid water on plant growth. The experiment will take about 2 weeks.


         4 cups or jars

         distilled water

         white vinegar

         measuring cups

         stirring spoon

         2 cuttings of a philodendron plant (1 leaf and small amount of stem)

         2 cuttings of a begonia or coleus plant (1 leaf and small amount of stem)

         notebook and pencil


Pour 1 teaspoon of vinegar into 2 cups of distilled water, stir well, and check the pH with either pH paper or a garden soil pH testing kit. The pH of the vinegar/water mixture should be about 4. If it is below pH 4, add a sprinkle of baking soda, or a drop of ammonia, stir well, and recheck the pH. If it is above pH 4, add a drop or two of vinegar and again recheck the pH.

Measure the pH of the distilled water using either pH paper or a garden soil pH testing kit. If the pH is below 7, add about 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, or a drop of ammonia, stir well, and check the pH of the water with the pH indicator. If the water is still acidic, repeat the process until pH 7 is reached. Should you accidentally add too much baking soda or ammonia, either start over again or add a drop or two of vinegar, stir, and recheck the pH.

Put one of the following labels on each cup or jar:

-- water philodendron

-- acid philodendron

-- water begonia (or coleus)

-- acid begonia (or coleus)

 Questions and Answers:

Which plant cuttings had the fastest root growth, those in distilled water or those in acid water?

The plants grown in distilled water should grow faster than plants grown in acid water. Acid water, like acid rain, can directly damage plants and slow or stop new growth.


Crafts From Unwanted Items

Have you ever looked at some "trash" just as you were about to throw it away and wondered if you could do something with it? Well, so do we! We know you have some great ideas, and this is the perfect place to

share them with us. Send us your ideas or photographs of your finished project (as you can tell, we also need photographs for the craft ideas below). If we like them, we will display them on this page. In the meantime, here are some craft ideas to get you started:

 1) Large laundry detergent box - You can turn an empty laundry detergent box into a nice looking wastebasket. You can use your imagination to determine what you can do to decorate the wastebasket. One procedure is to use leftover fabric (or you can purchase some), wrap it around the box, covering the outside completely, and glue it in place. Wrap a ribbon around the top edge and secure the ribbon with glue. You can compete the wastebasket by gluing a bow or decorative ribbon on the side. Don't forget to put a small plastic bag inside your wastebasket before you use it!

 2) Toilet paper rolls - You can decorate the empty rolls and use them for table decorations. Simply cut out pictures from greeting cards (i.e. Christmas or Easter cards) and glue them to the empty toilet paper roll. You can also use old pizza centers (these are the little plastic things put in the middle of pizza to keep the box from touching the pizza) as weight so your creations don't tip over as easily.

 3) L'eggs container - You can turn it into a decorative Easter egg. Use embroidery floss to go around and around the plastic egg. You can attach the floss to the egg with glue. Now you can add other decorative items, like sequins or large beads. A small section of a paper towel or toilet paper tube makes a very nice egg stand.

4) Cupcake paper cups - You can turn them into firestarters (for a fireplace) by dipping in melted wax. (Your parents should help with this one.)

5) Cottage cheese containers - You can turn cottage cheese containers (or other small containers) into cloth baskets. Cover the entire container with cloth, carefully gluing the ends of the cloth to the container. The basket handle can be made by twisting some cloth and attaching it to the basket.

6) Downy scented squares - After use, you can roll up potpourri in it and then wrap with yarn.

7)  Lunchables containers - You can use them as organizers to hold small items. They look nice if they have been wrapped with cloth.


Plants From Trash

Nature is the best recycler. Some plants even "recycle" themselves. New plants can grow from plant seeds, and in some cases, from parts of plants. Did you know that some of the things we often throw away in the trash can be grown into attractive houseplants? All you need are a sunny window, some water or potting soil, flower pots or containers, and a little tender loving care.

Tip: Try and use containers that would otherwise be thrown out. That way you will be:

1. reducing the amount of waste thrown out

2. recycling the "waste plant parts", and

3. reusing items that would otherwise be waste!

Source: "The Pits", Rare Pit & Plant Council



         potting soil

         containers for plants

         seeds, pits, fruit, or vegetable parts (see Procedure section below to find out what plant pieces or parts can be used)

         knife (have an adult do any required cutting)


         May need: toothpicks, pebbles, plastic wrap, Ziploc bag, peat moss, paper towel


A. Plants from Plant Parts:

White Potato in Soil:

Take a white potato that is showing "eyes" and cut a section that includes an eye (about 1 square inch). Place it in a pot of moist soil, about 2" deep. Keep the plant moist but do not "drown" it. Field potatoes are planted this way.

Sweet Potato in Water:

In the middle of a sweet potato, stick 3 to 4 toothpicks evenly spaced. Place the potato in a glass of water and put it in a sunny window. Either end can be rooted. Keep the water level high, and after a week or more the potato will usually sprout roots and vine-like stems and leaves.

Carrot Top in Water:

Cut about 1" - 1 1/2" off the top of 4 to 6 carrots. Fill a shallow bowl 2/3 full of washed pebbles (pebbles help support the tops.) Place the carrot tops over the pebbles. Add water to the level of the pebbles and maintain this level at all times. Soon the tops will sprout pretty foliage.

Pineapple in Water:

To separate the top from the fruit, hold the fruit firmly with one hand and twist the leafy head with the other. The top should come right off. Remove the lower leaves until the stump is about 1 1/2" long. Put the top in a glass of water and change the water weekly. When roots are 3" to 4" long, transplant to a pot.

B. Plants from Seeds:

Avocado Pits:

Remove the pit from an avocado and allow it to dry for 2-3 days. Peel away as much of the onion-like skin as possible. One-third of the way down, inset four toothpicks at regular intervals. The flat end is the bottom and the pointed end is the top. Put the pit in a glass of water so that 1/2" of water covers the base of the pit. When the roots are 4" long, transplant the pit to a pot and keep it in a bright, warm window. Keep the soil evenly moist at all times.

Mini-Fruit Trees:

Citrus plants can be grown from seeds removed from oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and tangerines. Soak the seeds overnight in water. Plant 1/2" in moist potting soil. Cover the pot with a plastic bag or a piece of plastic wrap, and put in a warm spot. When the seeds start to grow (in a few weeks), remove the plastic. Keep the plant in a warm, sunny window.

Beans, Peas, and Lentils:

Soak dried beans, peas, or lentils overnight in warm water. Fill a pot 2/3 full with potting soil. Place three seeds on the top of the soil and cover with 1/2" of soil. Cover the pot with plastic wrap. After the seeds start to grow, remove the plastic. Put the plant in a warm, sunny window, and keep the soil evenly moist. It may be necessary to tie the plants to a small stake as they grow.


Use anise, caraway, coriander, celery, dill, or fennel seed. Fill a 6" pot 2/3 full with moist potting soil. Place six seeds on top of the soil and cover with 1/2" of soil. Cover the pot with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot. After the seeds begin to grow (3-8 days), remove the plastic and place the plant in a sunny window. After a few weeks, you will have a lovely feathery foliage that can be snipped and used in cooking.


Make sure you use fresh, unroasted peanuts. Fill a large, 4" deep plastic bowl 2/3 full with moist potting soil. Shell four peanuts and place them on top of the soil, covering them with 1" of soil. The plant will sprout quickly. In a couple of months small, yellow, pealike flowers will develop along the lower part of the stem. After the flower fades, the ovary swells and starts to grow toward the ground and pushes into the soil. Peanuts will be ready to harvest in about six months.


C. Plants from Exotic Fruits:


In the center of the mango, there is a large hairy husk with a pit in it. Scrape off all the excess flesh from the husk and gently pry open with a dull knife. The pit is best started in a sphagnum bag. Fill a Ziploc bag with dampened peat moss or sphagnum. Place the pit in the bag and make sure it is completely surrounded by moss. Check every day to make sure the pit is not dried out or rotted from too much moisture. When the roots are 4" long, transplant to a pot that is at least 1" larger than the pit.


Papayas are not easy to grow because the plants have a tendency to dampen off (die) at about 6" tall. When you cut the papaya open, you will find hundreds of black seeds surrounded by a gelatinous aril (seed covering). To remove the aril, spread some seeds on a paper towel and roll them with your fingers until the aril squashes off. Plant the seeds immediately in a container with sterile potting soil. Give them bottom heat and high humidity until they pass the critical stage of 6" high. Papayas are rapid growers, and once they are established, they will not need a lot of water and fertilizer.


Tamarind pods look like brown lima beans. The outer shell is brittle and easily peels back, revealing a sticky, brown, pulp. Within this pulp there are five or six shiny black pits. Nick the pits (with a nail file) and soak them until they swell, usually in a few hours. Plant the pits in a container with potting soil and place in a sunny window. Tamarinds are water-loving plants and should never be allowed to dry out. As they grow, pinch them back to make the plant fuller.