Tracy Suttles: Class Project – Build a Recycled Bottle Greenhouse
The following is a guest post from Houston, Texas real estate developer and entrepreneur Tracy Suttles.
A construction project is a great way to involve a whole class of children, and to encourage teamwork and co-operation. Building a greenhouse from recycled plastic bottles offers an ideal opportunity for this, as children can work together as small groups, contributing to the construction of the greater project.
Constructing Your Recycled Greenhouse
The greenhouse is constructed from plastic 2L pop/soda bottles. To construct the greenhouse:
- Cut the bottom off each bottle (this should be done by an adult, as a craft knife is the most effective way to do this).
- Stack the bottles on top of each other, passing a garden cane through each bottle neck as a support. The neck of each bottle should fit fairly snugly into the open bottom end of the bottle above.
- Once the vertical sections have been constructed, they can be positioned by pushing the garden cane into the ground. Tape, string or rubber bands be used to hold the sections together.
- Similar sections can be used to create a roof for the greenhouse however the bottom bottle in these sections should have its base left in tact, so that the end of the garden cane does not protrude.
This method can be used to create a range of temporary structures ranging from small scale cloches to full sized greenhouses. For a more sophisticated, and hard-wearing version of the plastic bottle greenhouse a timber frame can be added. An example of this type of structure was built by the Greenspace Education Project.
The number of bottles required will depend on the intended scale of the greenhouse, and whether it is to be free standing, or a ‘lean-to’ against a wall. Conversely, the scale and design of the greenhouse could be decided once the number of bottles collected is known. This can also introduce an element of mathematics and estimation to the project. Designing the greenhouse, and deciding on the best location for it, can encourage children to think about the mathematical ideas of area and volume.
Knowledge of plant growth and the requirement for sunlight can be linked to the science curriculum, and to other disciplines, by recognising the best position for the greenhouse (South facing if in the Northern hemisphere). Compasses and maps of the school grounds can be used to link the project to the Geography curriculum.
Encourage Children to Recycle and Reuse
If the design has been decided prior to starting the project, an estimated target for the number of bottles required can be used as a class target. Children can increase their contribution to the project by collecting plastic bottles from the recycling bins of their family and friends. This has the added advantage of passing on information about the importance and benefits of recycling to the wider school community. A prize could be offered for the child who collects the most bottles.