The IWMA School Education Program offers five classroom programs for K-12 teachers in SLO County, as well as a recycling field trip. All programs are free, presented by an experienced science educator, and correlated to Next Generation Science Standards and California Science Standards. Read more about our programs below, and schedule soon to receive the best availability.

The IWMA School Education Program also offers assistance for schools and teachers regarding presentations, guest speakers, newsletters, field trips and more. Contact us to learn more.

Introduction to Recycling

In this hands-on program, students will learn about natural resources, what can be recycled, and how to reduce waste at home and school.  Interactive and fun with matching boards and a student waste sort, it’s a great program for any grade level.  This program is a prerequisite for the Recycling Field Trip. Grades K-12, 55 minutes. Find out which science standards this program meets.

Recycling Field Trip

Visit the Cold Canyon Landfill and Recycling Facility to be amazed by and educated about what happens to our recyclables and trash. On this trip, students will see how their recyclables are sorted and processed by various trucks and machines. Students will also visit our recycling education center, filled with hands-on exhibits and displays. Field trips are from 9:00-11:30am, and the bus cost is paid for by IWMA. Grades 3-12, 2 hours. Prerequisite: Introduction to Recycling. Find out which science standards this program meets.


This hands-on program introduces students to the concepts and practices of composting food waste using worms.  The students will learn worm anatomy and how worms decompose their food scraps.  You will have the option to borrow a worm bin on loan for a real interactive learning experience.   Grades K-12, 45 minutes. Find out which science standards this program meets.

The Treemendous Paper Tale

This presentation explores the natural resources needed to make paper. Vivid models show the path from tree to finished paper products so that students will learn how paper is made. Your presenter will make a piece of paper in class. Students will also learn how many pounds of paper they use each year, and how this resource can be conserved. Grades K-6, 45 minutes. Find out which science standards this program meets.

Marine Debris

Marine debris has become a global issue, affecting our oceans, marine life, and human health.  This class program introduces the problem, providing students the opportunity to understand how trash reaches our oceans and what happens to these various materials when they become part of the marine environment.  Students will connect how choices made today will impact marine organisms in the future.  Grades K-6, 55 minutes.

Hidden Hazards

Hidden Hazards replaces our former Household Hazardous Waste program.  This newly updated presentation facilitates students as they work in table groups to identify items in a typical household that are too dangerous to put in the trash.  Hidden Hazards includes hands-on activities using colorful magnetic boards, encourageing students to identify, investigate, and classify items that are considered household hazardous waste.  Grades 3-8, 50 minutes. Find out which science standards this program meets.

Zero Waste 101 

This updated program will be available starting January 2020!

This interactive slide program provides the next step in applying what students have learned from the Introduction to Recycling program. Students and teachers will be empowered to implement their understanding of waste reduction, composting and recycling. You’ll have the option to turn your classroom into a zero waste zone for one week, one month or the entire school year. Grades 4-8, 45 minutes. Prerequisite: Introduction to Recycling. Find out which science standards this program meets.

Doing the Rot Thing… Compost Field Trip  

Starting January 2020

Explore the county’s newest innovation in sustainability, the Anaerobic Digester. This facility composts up to 100 tons of green waste and food waste, each day. The digester converts these materials to a gas, which is then used to make electricity. Another byproduct of the digester is solid compost, which is land applied. Upon arrival at the facility, students will gather for an orientation, and begin their walking tour of the site. During the 90-minute field trip students will observe the grinding process, which occurs before the organic materials enter the digester. Through a small observation window, they can view the inside of the 100-foot long compost vessel.  Grades 4-12, 90 minutes.

Doing the Rot Thing… Digester Slideshow in Your Classroom

This interactive slide program with video content allows students to see, explore, and understand how the Anaerobic Digester facility in San Luis Obispo converts up to 100 tons of organics each day into electricity and compost. The video clips show heavy equipment moving green waste, the shredding machine, and a look into the digester itself with a view of the “digestate.” Doing the Rot Thing in Your Classroom provides all the aciton, but none of the odor!  Grades 4-12, 50 minutes.

Contact Us

For more information, call (805) 782-8424 or email us at Learn how to schedule one of our programs here.

Want to stay up-to-date? Download our current newsletter here (PDF).