War On Waste - Understanding Waste

War On Waste - Understanding Waste

Lesson 1 of 13 in this unit

  • Primary
  • Year 3 - 6
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Geography
  • Environmental
  • Sustainability
  • ...

Lesson summary

If you want to begin your class’s war on waste, this lesson is the perfect starting point. By the end of this lesson, you will be able to assess your students’ understanding of waste and waste disposal methods before tackling participating in a waste disposal experiment.

In this lesson, students explore what they already know about waste before thinking about how we dispose of waste. The class will then learn about how abandoned waste impacts the environment. Students then participate in an experiment to investigate the different ways that waste items break down. The class will bury a variety of items and leave them to break down under three different conditions: underground, in weather and in water. They assess how the waste items are breaking down at regular intervals before communicating their results. This activity can be extended over several weeks or months, with the class revisiting the waste materials each week and recording their findings.

Learning intentions:

Students can...

  • understand what waste is
  • understand that waste items are made from a range of materials
  • understand that some waste items can harm our environment
  • recognise that some materials decompose slowly.

Success criteria:

Students can...

  • work collaboratively
  • participate in class discussions
  • follow instructions to conduct an experiment
  • understand some of the steps of the scientific process
  • make predictions based on existing knowledge
  • draw conclusions and make recommendations based on results.

Lesson guides and printables

Lesson Plan
Student Worksheet
Teacher Content Info

Lesson details

Curriculum mapping

Australian curriculum content descriptions: 

Year 4 Science:

  • Natural and processed materials have a range of physical properties that can influence their use (ACSSU074)
  • With guidance, identify questions in familiar contexts that can be investigated scientifically and make predictions based on prior knowledge (ACSIS064)
  • With guidance, plan and conduct scientific investigations to find answers to questions, considering the safe use of appropriate materials and equipment (ACSIS065)
  • Use a range of methods including tables and simple column graphs to represent data and to identify patterns and trends (ACSIS068)
  • Compare results with predictions, suggesting possible reasons for findings (ACSIS216)
  • Reflect on investigations, including whether a test was fair or not (ACSIS069)
  • Represent and communicate observations, ideas and findings using formal and informal representations (ACSIS071)

Year 4 Mathematics:

  • Construct suitable data displays, with and without the use of digital technologies, from given or collected data. Include tables, column graphs and picture graphs where one picture can represent many data values (ACMSP096)
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of different displays in illustrating data features including variability (ACMSP097)

Year 4 HASS (Geography):

  • The use and management of natural resources and waste, and the different views on how to do this sustainably (ACHASSK090)

Year 5 Science:

  • With guidance, pose clarifying questions and make predictions about scientific investigations (ACSIS231)
  • Decide variables to be changed and measured in fair tests, and observe measure and record data with accuracy using digital technologies as appropriate (ACSIS087)
  • Reflect on and suggest improvements to scientific investigations (ACSIS091)
  • Communicate ideas, explanations and processes using scientific representations in a variety of ways, including multi-modal texts (ACSIS093)

Year 5 Mathematics:

  • Pose questions and collect categorical or numerical data by observation or survey (ACMSP118)
  • Construct displays, including column graphs, dot plots and tables, appropriate for data type, with and without the use of digital technologies (ACMSP119)

Year 6 Science:

  • Changes to materials can be reversible or irreversible (ACSSU095)
  • With guidance, pose clarifying questions and make predictions about scientific investigations (ACSIS232)
  • Identify, plan and apply the elements of scientific investigations to answer questions and solve problems using equipment and materials safely and identifying potential risks (ACSIS103)
  • Compare data with predictions and use as evidence in developing explanations (ACSIS221)
  • Reflect on and suggest improvements to scientific investigations (ACSIS108)
  • Communicate ideas, explanations and processes using scientific representations in a variety of ways, including multi-modal texts (ACSIS110)

Year 6 Mathematics:

  • Interpret and compare a range of data displays, including side-by-side column graphs for two categorical variables (ACMSP147)

Syllabus outcomes: ST2-13MW, ST2-4WS, ST3-4WS, ST3-12MW, GE2-2, GE2-3

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.8, OI.9

Relevant parts of Year 4 Science achievement standards: Students apply the observable properties of materials to explain how objects and materials can be used. They follow instructions to make predictions based on prior knowledge. They describe ways to conduct investigations and safely use equipment to make and record observations with accuracy. They use provided tables and column graphs to organise data and identify patterns. Students suggest explanations for observations and compare their findings with their predictions. They use formal and informal ways to communicate their observations and findings.

Relevant parts of Year 4 Mathematics achievement standards: They construct data displays from given or collected data

Relevant parts of Year 4 HASS achievement standards: Students identify the interconnections between components of the environment and between people and the environment

Relevant parts of Year 5 Science achievement standards: Students follow instructions to predict the effect of changing variables when planning an investigation. They use equipment in ways that are safe and improve the accuracy of their observations. Students construct tables and graphs to organise data and identify patterns in the data. They compare patterns in their data with predictions when suggesting explanations. They communicate their ideas and findings using multimodal texts.

Relevant parts of Year 5 Mathematics achievement standards: Students pose questions to gather data, and construct data displays appropriate for the data

Relevant parts of Year 6 Science achievement standards: Students compare and classify different types of observable changes to materials. They identify variables to be changed and measured and describe potential safety risks when planning methods, and they collect, organise and interpret their data, identifying where improvements to their methods or research could improve the data. Students describe and analyse relationships in data using appropriate representations and construct multimodal texts to communicate ideas, methods and findings.

Relevant parts of Year 6 Mathematics achievement standards: They interpret and compare a variety of data displays including those displays for two categorical variables.

Unit of work: War On Waste – Years 4-6

Time required: 60+ mins – the experiment can be extended over several weeks or months, with the class revisiting the buried waste materials each week and recording their findings

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – facilitate class discussions, lead students in the experiment

Resources required

  • A device with internet and presenting capability
  • Student Worksheet – one copy per student
  • Waste Question Sheet – one double-sided copy for every two students
  • Waste Safety Code (optional)
  • What Is It Made From Flashcards (optional)
  • Two different groups of clean waste items that students are likely to be familiar with. Try and get three items in each group: for instance, three plastic bottles and three fruit juice cartons, or three aluminium cans and three plastic bags, or three plastic straws and three paper straws. Other waste items could include glass jars/bottles, plastic wrap, aluminium foil, paper coffee cups, cardboard boxes or paper. Try to pick waste items that are common to your classroom – perhaps do a quick check of the classroom rubbish bin to see what is a common item, or collect packaging items from the canteen. Ensure all items are thoroughly cleaned.

Skills

This lesson is designed to build students’ competencies in the following skills:

  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Critical thinking

Additional info

Cool Australia’s War On Waste lessons have been developed in partnership with Lune Media and with support from the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network. These lessons have been designed to lead students through a deeper understanding of some of the big issues relating to waste in Australia and to support them to take action to reduce the impact of waste on our environment.

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