Here today, gone…. not quite tomorrow. Using an access point of litter found on Colorado’s fourteener mountains, students consider the impact people have on the environment. First, students predict how long various items will take to decompose. Next, they research the scientific factors that impact rate of decomposition. Finally, students create an outdoor experiment using the SMA campus as the test site. In the months to come the class will collect data and evaluate results. Meanwhile, a global perspective is developed as students consider how littering differs between countries. Competency in environmental justice is developed as students consider how to solve the myriad of problems that littering creates.

Faculty: Melissa McQueen - Math 7

Dates Offered

November 9, 2018
November 30, 2018

Explore More

  • Go to:  Litterati is an app used to identify, collect, and geotag the world’s litter. Watch here to learn about a community that’s crowdsource-cleaning the plant.

  • Day trip: If you are considering a hike on one of Colorado’s fourteeners, here is a guide from 5280 magazine.

  • Road Trip: Two years ago the Denver Zoo hosted the exhibit Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea. This exhibit includes sculptures made from litter found in the ocean and on coastal beaches. This powerful and poignant exhibit opens eyes to the marine debris crisis. See photographs of the sculptures and check if the exhibit is showing at a city you will be visiting this year click here.


This hands-on exploration of decomposition promotes scientific understanding within a context to which students can relate: the SMA campus and the beautiful Colorado mountains. This seminar focuses on the intersection of science and the Loretto School Values. As noted in the Loretto statement of mission and work: “We respect (the planet’s) dignity and beauty, and we work against systems and conditions that violate the planet and its creatures.”