Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students work in small groups to research the school waste system and then use their research findings to produce a five minute presentation called Our school waste tour.

Learning goals:

  • Students understand that a school may have many waste collection containers and processes for collecting and disposing of its waste. Together, these containers and processes make up a waste management system.
  • Students understand that there are a number of different waste streams in a school.

Australian Curriculum content description:

Year 9 Geography

  • Develop geographically significant questions and plan an inquiry that identifies and applies appropriate geographical methodologies and concepts (ACHGS063)
  • Collect, select, record and organise relevant geographical data and information, using ethical protocols, from a range of appropriate primary and secondary sources (ACHGS064)
  • The effects of the production and consumption of goods on places and environments throughout the world (ACHGK068)
  • Present findings, arguments and explanations in a range of appropriate communication forms, selected for their effectiveness and to suit audience and purpose; using relevant geographical terminology, and digital technologies as appropriate (ACHGS070)

Syllabus OutcomesGE4-2, GE4-3, GE4-4, GE4-5, GE5-7, GE5-8

Topic: Solid Waste

Time required: 60 mins

Level of teacher scaffolding: Low – introduce and direct activity.

Resources required: Art materials, computer, camera, iPad or smart phones with cameras.

Digital technology opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities.

Homework and extension opportunities: This activity includes opportunities for extension.

Safety: Students follow Class Waste Safety Code.

Keywords: Waste, school, tour, waste management system.


Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation:

Overarching learning goal: Students work in small groups to research the school waste system and then use their research findings to produce a five minute presentation called Our school waste tour.

Teacher content information: Before the activity, do some research of your own. Find out the cost of disposing of all the school’s rubbish and recyclables as well as the cost of buying all the paper used by the school  Some schools use as much as two reams of paper for each student per year.  At $5-6 per ream, this can add up to tens of thousands of dollars each year for a typical secondary school; money that could be spent on other things for the school such as sporting or music equipment.

Hot tips: This activity can be followed with the activity 'Waste pathways'. Findings from this activity can be used in the 'Waste pathways' activity.

Student and classroom organisation:

* This activity requires some teacher preparation - see Teacher content information above.

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Student Worksheet

What happens to waste at our school?

Your task for this activity is to create a five minute photographic presentation or movie to inform new students about the waste system in your school. You'll need to head outside with a camera (video or stills) and record what happens with the following types of waste at your school:

  • Organics (food scraps)
  • Organics (garden waste)
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Plastic bottles
  • Aluminium cans
  • Printer or photocopier cartridges
  • Other items such as corks or unwanted clothing/household goods
  • Rubbish

You should aim to record what types of bins are available for all these types of waste as well as where these bins are located. If there is any other information about waste that might be useful for new students (such as rubbish free lunches or nude food days) be sure to include details of these too.

Create a 5 minute presentation or movie that can be shared with the class. Use the Peer Assessment Rubric below to provide feedback on other presentations.


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