Ann Arbor Recycling Education

Ecology Center environmental programs have been a feature of the Ann Arbor educational experience for more than 40 years. Beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, the Ecology Center will be teaming with the Freeman Center's Environmental Educators to provide field trip experiences for all Ann Arbor Public School 2nd grade and 7th grade students. 

Virtual Visits

We are excited to announce that our environmental lessons will be going virtual this year!  Many of our familiar in-class workshops will now be available in a new interactive online format.  No matter which program you choose, students will get the message of what they can do to protect our environment!


How do Ecology Center lessons fit with my curriculum?

All programs are aligned with Michigan science and/or social studies standards and recommended for a specific grade level or grade-range.

Do I have to pay for the lesson?

All of our online lessons are  FREE to Ann Arbor schools, thanks to sponsorship from the City of Ann Arbor’s Solid Waste Department.

What do I get when I request an online lesson?

You get online access to the program of your choice, including a link that can be embedded in your school’s online platform. Each lesson is self-contained, consisting of a pre-recorded video with features that allow students to interact with the content. You will also receive a writing prompt that extends learning on the video’s topic. Students may view the video unlimited times from that date you receive it until the end of the school year. 

How many lessons can I register for?

There is no limit to the number of programs you can order for your school. Each lesson is designed to be grade-level appropriate and has been aligned to that grade’s academic standards.

What do you mean when you say the lessons are “interactive”?

We use a video overlay program called Mindstamp with each of our pre-recorded virtual workshops. Each pre-recorded video has a mix of multiple-choice, short-answer, and draw-on-the-screen interactions, which allow for the student to move at their own pace. Virtual lessons may include an activity piece that asks students to create something with common household items or a follow-up link to other activities or games related to the content of the virtual lesson.

How are student response data recorded and used to preserve student privacy?

Students are asked to provide the name of their school and teacher at the start of the program. Students do not share their name or contact information with the Ecology Center.  Data cannot be traced back to an individual student.

When a student answers the video’s interactive questions, Mindstamp records their responses under an anonymous viewer-name. This allows us to track how student responses vary without identifying individuals. Student responses are aggregated to help us identify whether the lesson is achieving learning goals or to identify areas where we could improve the program to enhance learning.

How do I request a lesson?

Follow this link to an online order form. The form will ask you to provide your name, school, and contact information. You will select a lesson and choose a month that you would like to use the lesson in your classroom. After you have completed the online order form, you will be directed to a payment link. If you have issues with this process, please contact [email protected]

How do I access and share the lesson with my students?

In order to access the workshop, you will receive an email with a link to the Ecology Center Virtual Lesson that was requested in the online order form. After clicking the link you will be redirected to the virtual lesson, and you can share the link on your student engagement platform. The following video walks you through the process: Video Link

Are you offering any in-classroom programs during 2022-2023 school year?

Ecology Center's in-classroom programs are no longer sponsored by the City of Ann Arbor. Teachers may still request an in-person visit for $85/classroom. To request an in-person visit, please contact [email protected].


Program Descriptions

Wee Recycle (PK/K): Available Online or In-Person

MI Science Standards: K-ESS3-3, K-2-ETS1-3, MI Social Studies Standards: K-G5.0.1

Through games, story, and song, students learn about recycling and how to reduce waste. Featuring song and story with ReEco and friends, and a follow-along, hands-on component where students can sort their own waste at home to learn the rules of recycling.

Compostability (1st): Available Online or In-Person

MI Science Standards: 1-LS1-1, MI Social Studies Standards: 1-G2.0.1, 1-G5.0.1 

Through games, poetry, story, and song, students learn about organic waste and the role of nature's recyclers. Featuring interactive questions, song and story with ReEco the Recycling Raccoon, a follow-along, hands-on component where students can create their own compost using household items.

Grow, Eat & Throw (2nd): Available Online or In-Person

MI Science Standards: 2-PS1-2, MI Social Studies Standards: 2-G1.0.1, 2-G4.0.2, 2-G5.0.1, 2-E1.0.3, 2-E1.0.5

Explore life cycles of common food products and propose alternative systems to reduce the impact of food waste. Featuring a fun, engaging draw-on-the-screen portion where students identify zero waste packaging options, and a hands-on component where students look at packaging waste in their own home and report back!

Storm Water Mystery (2nd and 3rd): Available Online

MI Science Standards: 3-ESS2-1, 3-ESS3-1, MI Social Studies Standards : 3 - P4.2, 3 - G5.0.1

Decipher the clues to storm water pollution, and discuss everyday solutions. Students help Detective Frog and his assistant, Yoshi, solve a mystery through: interactive questions, a fun, engaging draw-on-the-screen portion, and singing with Detective Frog and friends! Students receive the Stormwater Detective Badge for completing the lesson.

Time for Waste (3rd): Available In-Person

MI Standards: 3-LS4-1, 3-LS4-4, 3-H3.0.2, 3-H3.0.5, 3-H3.0.7, 3-E1.0.1, 3-G5.0.2

This simulated archaeological dig allows students to compare the nature of waste from Native Americans to present day and critically examine how waste is related to culture.

Project Recycle (4th): Available Online or In-Person

MI Science Standards: 4-ESS3-1, MI Social Studies Standards: 4-G4.0.3, 4-G5.0.1, 4-E1.0.1, 4-E1.0.3

Students learn about our waste system and how consumer choices impact the recycling market. Featuring  a video of the Materials Recovery Facility and a draw-on-the-screen sorting activity!

Mapping Materials Markets (4th): Available In-Person

MI Standards: 4-G4.0.3, 4-G5.0.1, 4-E1.0.1, 4-E1.0.3, 4-E1.0.4

Examine maps and models to identify how recycling influences the economy and environment.

The 3 C's: Compost, Carbon, and Climate (5th): Available Online or In-Person

MI Science Standards: 5-PS1-3, 5-LS2-1, 5-ESS2-1, 5-ESS3-1

Use evidence to identify how the biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and geosphere interact during decomposition.

Our Material World (6th): Available Online or In-Person

MI Social Studies Standards: 6-G1.3.1, 6-G2.2.3, 6-G3.2.2, 6-G4.1.4, 6-G4.4.1, 6-G5.1.1

Analyze images and statistics from countries across the world that reflect cultural and environmental differences, while raising questions about social equity.

Hungry Planet (7th): Available Online or In-Person

MI Social Studies Standards: 7-G4.4.1, 7-G4.2.1, 7-G4.4.2, 7-G4.3.1, 7-G4.3.2, 7–G3.1.1, 7-G5.1.2, 7-G5.1.3, 7-W4.1.3

Compare food systems of the past with our modern global system and more-sustainable alternatives in order to write a persuasive argument for improving our food system.

Free Download! Researching Sustainable Systems (High School): Available Online

MI Social Studies Standards P1.1, P1.5, P3.4, CG2, MI Science Standards: HS-ESS3-1, HS-ETS1-1, HS-ETS1-3

Give students an age-appropriate introduction to published research with a focus on sustainable resource management. Provides practice with skills such as data analysis, graphing, and reasoning, while asking students to think deeply about the relationship between social inequities and environmental and human health.

Resources for Ann Arbor School District 

Recycling rules/ poster (images below)

recycling mix


Recycling with confidence City of Ann Arbor curbside recycling