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K-12 Outreach Lab Activities

Learning Labs and Lectures

The following lectures, lab activities and learning materials provide instruction for a variety of fun and educational experiments to do at home or in a group setting with common household items.

What to Expect

  • A brief description of the topic and why it is important.
  • Lectures act as an introduction to pulp and paper science for those new or unfamiliar with these topics.
  • Lab manuals describe experiments and activities suitable for teachers or adults to perform as demonstrations.
  • Experiments can also be performed by high school students with adult supervision.
  • Take appropriate safety measures for all chemicals or household hazards, like using a blender.
  • For questions or more information about any of the lectures or labs, please contact Dr. Richard Venditti.

Lecture and Lab File Formats

The lectures and labs use the following four file formats:

  • Word Documents – Click on the file and when prompted, save it to your hard drive. You may edit the Word Doc to meet your needs, but note that printer settings and margins on different computers affect the layout of the document. Please download the PDF Files if you prefer to print instead of edit the file. Word 97 or higher recommended.
  • Online Powerpoint Presentations – These are web embedded slides and are great for viewing online. These files cannot be edited as a Powerpoint Presentation.
  • Zip Files – All the zip files contain Microsoft Powerpoint Presentations. If you need to edit the presentations to fit your classes and/or lectures, download and unzip these files. You will need either WinZip or PKZip to do so. Some of the zip files are large and can take up to 5 minutes to download on a high speed connection.
  • PDF Files – These files are essentially “photographs” of a document. They are print ready and cannot be edited. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these files.

Introductory Lectures

  • A Week in the Life of a Scientist (Zip File) – This presentation describes the day-to-day experiences of working as a process engineer.
  • Fiber Supply Issues (Zip File)This presentation discusses the relative advantages of using wood to make paper versus other non-wood materials, such as agricultural wastes.
  • Forests to Fibers (Zip File) – This presentation introduces students to forestry in the United States and the structure and chemistry of wood.
  • Fundamentals of Flotation (Zip File) – This presentation contains a detailed discussion on the theory of flotation deinking, which is the removal of ink by floating with air bubbles. This presentation is useful for students who have reviewed the Recycling Lecture and want to learn more about the science of flotation deinking as a background for potential laboratory experiments.
  • How Image Analysis Works (Zip File) – This presentation describes how automatic image analysis detects contaminants in paper and other materials.
  • Major Pulp Tests (Zip File) – This presentation briefly describes the major chemical tests used to evaluate the quality of pulp for papermaking.
  • Material Balances (Zip File) – This presentation introduces students to the use of material balances, a method to account for inputs and outputs of components in a process. This is a fundamental tool used by chemical engineers and other process engineers.
  • Papermaking (Zip File) – This presentation describes and explains the major steps involved in the manufacturing of paper from pulp. It also discusses the history of papermaking.
  • Pulping Operations (Zip File) – This presentation explains the process of breaking down wood chemically, commonly called pulping, to produce a slurry of individual fibers, commonly called pulp, which will be used to make paper. It also discusses the bleaching of pulp, environmental impacts of pulping and bleaching, and the concept of the chemical kinetic rate of relations.
  • Recycling Environmental Issues (Zip File) – This presentation explores the environmental issues regarding paper recycling and how technological improvements in the paper recycling arena could impact industrial solid waste.
  • Recycling Lecture (Zip File) – This presentation describes the major paper recycling sub-operations and how they are put together to make a recycling process. It also describes the paper recycling market, including the percentage of paper that is recycled and what types of recovered paper are used for recycled paper products.
  • The Strength of Paper (Zip File) – This presentation discusses the importance of paper strength in our day-to-day lives. It shows how hydrogen bonding is responsible for the strength and the recyclability of paper. It also describes the theory behind the measurement/calculation of the tensile strength of paper. This lecture is useful as background material for the Testing Paper Strength Lab exercise.
  • Dioxin and the Paper Industry (Zip File) – This file discusses an environmental water issue that was overcome by the paper industry. It demonstrates how new technology can be used to solve environmental problems so that manufacturing industries can still meet the demands of our society.

Hands-on Labs

Paper Product Design

  • Egg Drop (Zip File) – This lab encourages students to creatively design a container that will protect an egg from dropping three floors using only poster board, tape and scissors.

Paper Making

  • Detailed Handsheet Procedure (PDF file) (Word Document) – This 21-page document explains the procedure for making handsheets from non-wood pulp produced in the pulping labs. It describes the refining process and procedure using a blender of virgin pulps. It also has suggestions for further projects in papermaking. The handsheet mold used in this lab can be obtained by contacting Dr. Richard Venditti.
  • General Brief Handsheet Procedure (PDF file) (Word Document) – This 4-page document explains how to make a handsheet for further display or testing. This procedure does not include the refining process. The handsheet mold used in this lab can be obtained by contacting Dr. Richard Venditti.
  • Testing Paper Strength (PDF file) – This five-page lab demonstrates how to perform a simple experiment to determine the strength of paper. Materials needed to perform this test quantitatively include a plastic bucket, duct tape, pennies or similar items, scissors and a ruler. Paper strength can be tested on copy paper, newsprint, recycled handsheets, handsheets from virgin pulps, etc.
  • Paper Handsheet Mold (PDF file) (Word Document) – This file contains materials and dimensions useful in building your own handsheet mold.


  • Detailed Pulping Procedure (PDF file) (Word Document) – This 36-page document explains in the pulping procedure. It also includes the steps for pulping non-wood materials such as agricultural waste into fibers and then bleaching this pulp. This is a good background for the Simplified Pulp Procedure and the Simplified Bleaching Procedure.
  • Pulping Lab Data Sheet (PDF file) (Word Document) – This one-page data and observation sheet should be used with the bleaching lab.
  • Bleaching Lab Data Sheet (PDF file) (Word Document) – This one-page data and observation sheet should be used with the pulping lab.
  • Simplified Bleaching Procedure (PDF file) (Word Document) – This one-page lab describes the major steps for the laboratory bleaching of pulp. The Detailed Pulping Procedure should be read prior to using this simplified procedure.
  • Simplified Pulp Procedure (PDF file) (Word Document) – This two-page lab describes a shortened version of the Detailed Pulping Procedure. This simplified procedure is convenient to use in a laboratory setting. The Detailed Pulping Procedure should be read prior to using this simplified procedure.


  • Wash Deinking of Newsprint (PDF file) (Word Document) – This experiment demonstrates the washing deinking operation and allows students to explore operating variables that may affect the washing performance.
  • Bleach Recycled Pulp (PDF file) (Word Document) – This three-page lab describes how to bleach recycled pulp in a 10-step process. Common household bleach is used. Questions and further experiments are also included.
  • Dirt Counting (PDF file) (Word Document) – This six-page lab demonstrates how to perform a manual dirt count to evaluate the contaminant level in a paper sample.  Additional activities are also included.
  • Flotation Deinking (PDF file) (Word Document) – This six-page document contains a lab outlining the procedures for flotation deinking of waste paper. The major pieces of equipment needed are a kitchen blender and a fish aquarium air pump. It also includes questions and further experiments.
  • Handsheet Making from Recycled Pulp (PDF file) (Word Document) – This four-page document explains in a 20-step process for making handsheets from recycled fibers. The handsheet mold used in this lab can be obtained by contacting Dr. Richard Venditti. It is the same file as the General Brief Handsheet Procedure found in the papermaking labs above.
  • Screening Recycled Pulp (PDF file) (Word Document) – This four-page document describes how to perform coarse screening of recycled fiber to remove large contaminants, such as plastic film. The lab also demonstrates how to calculate the yield of a recycling process and demonstrates that the paper recycling process itself generates a significant waste stream. Questions and further experiments are listed at the end of the lab.
  • Advanced Bleaching of Recycled Pulp (Zip File) – This presentation provides the framework for understanding and developing an advanced bleaching lab.