Recycling Machine

Help students explore the creative process of engineering by inventing a recycling machine

Activity Kit


  • Ages 9-10 (Upper elementary students)
  • Ages 11-13 (Middle grade students)
  • This activity can be done in a classroom, an after-school program, or at a community youth center

What’s the goal of this kit?

  • Introduce engineering to students who may not yet know what it is or if it interests them.
  • Students learn how to use engineering skills in a fun and easy way, and discover how even the simplest materials can be used cleverly to solve problems.

Why is this topic important?

  • Instruction through “learning-by-doing” and experimentation helps children learn how to analyze and solve practical problems.
  • Working on a challenge as a group brings people closer together.
  • It’s important to introduce students to potential STEM careers in a fun and accessible way.

What do I need to know about this activity?

Volunteers who like puzzles and problem-solving will enjoy this activity. Skills in engineering are not necessary because the emphasis is on creative thinking, testing, and the application of an idea to illustrate an engineer’s process. If you are an engineer, then you are encouraged to talk about your experience and motivations. This activity is also for you if you like…

  • Helping people apply different skills to a challenge
  • Contraptions and mentoring students build them
  • Plenty of interaction with participants
  • Time required: 90 minutes to prepare materials and organize event, 1 hour to conduct the activity
  • IBMers can apply volunteering hours to their THINK40 total.

Activity resources

Get all kit resources

Languages available:

  • English
  • Chinese
  • French
  • German
  • Japanese
  • Portuguese (Brazil)
  • Spanish (L.A.)
  • Swedish

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