STEM Tuesdays: Seed Paper

Did you know that paper is made from trees? The trees are chopped down, then cut into tiny little pieces of wood called chips. Those chips are mixed with water to create a pulp, then bleached. After that, the water is squeezed out and the pulp is flattened into a big sheet. After it dries, it is cut into smaller, paper-sized pieces. 

Today, we’re going to learn how to make a special kind of paper: recycled paper. Recycled paper is great because it helps the environment! Instead of chopping down new trees, recycled paper is made out of old, used paper. This saves a lot of energy!

Materials & Instructions

Newspaper
Scissors or a paper shredder
A blender
Paper towels or towels
Optional: flower, vegetable, or herb seeds; a rolling pin; cookie cutters

Step 1. Cut your newspaper into (approximately) 1-inch squares. If you have a paper shredder, you can shred your newspaper instead.
Step 2. Fill your blender most of the way with water. Add in 1-2 handfuls of shredded or cut newspaper; don’t add too much newspaper or it will be too much work for your blender! (have an adult help you with this part of the activity!)
Step 3. Blend your newspaper and water until you have a nice pulp or paste.
Step 4. Scoop your pulp into a bowl. This is the material we’re going to use for our paper. If you have a flower, vegetable, or herb seeds, you can stir them in now.
Step 5. Lay down some paper towels or a towel. Take a handful of your pulp and squeeze some of the water out. Form a paper shape out of the pulp with your hands on top of the towel, then place another paper towel or towel on top. 
Step 6. Use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten the paper even more and squeeze out the extra water (the more water you squeeze out, the faster it will dry.) Instead of forming a paper shape, you can also press some of your pulp into a cookie cutter and then squeeze out the water from there. Once you’ve gotten most of the water squeezed out, you should be able to remove your cookie cutter and the paper will retain its shape.
Step 7. Remove the top layer of towels and let your paper dry for 1-3 days. 
If you added seeds to your paper, you can write a letter to a friend, mail it to them, and then they can plant your note to grow flowers, vegetables, or herbs! The paper will biodegrade in the earth.

Vocab Words

Pulp: Soft, wet, shapeless material. 
Recycle: When we recycle our used items, that means they get broken down and built back up into new items. Many items like plastic, paper, glass, and aluminum can be recycled. 
Biodegrade: When something is broken down by living creatures like bacteria and fungi. Objects that are biodegradable are able to break down into natural elements and become a part of the environment. 

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