Activity Introduction

Quick summary: This lesson forms part of a Design Thinking Unit in which students identify issues relating to recycling, build an understanding of the impact that not recycling can have in their own community, work to find and prototype a solution, then take action in their community that addresses the issues they have identified. In this lesson, students will gather information about habits and attitudes in order to build empathy with their school community. They will complete surveys, interviews, observations and audits planned in a previous lesson and then discuss, analyse and share their findings. Students will begin to develop ideas for action based on the information they have gathered in the next lesson.

This activity has been developed in partnership with Visy. For over 70 years Visy has been committed to finding sustainable solutions for Australia and New Zealand’s recyclables and helping to reduce local landfills. Visy collects, receives and sorts paper, cardboard, glass, plastics, steel and aluminium from households, businesses and schools with the purpose of reusing these products in the re-manufacture of new packaging products.

Learning intentions:

  • Students will understand what an end-user is
  • Students will be able to empathise with end-users.

21st century skills: 

CommunicatingCommunity EngagementCritical ThinkingEmpathyEthical UnderstandingGlobal CitizenshipSocial SkillsProblem FindingTeam Work

Curriculum Mapping

To view our Australian Curriculum alignment click here

To view our NZ Curriculum alignment click here

Topic: Recycling, Sustainability.

Unit of work: Visy Education – Using Design Thinking to Solve Problems – Year 5 & 6.

Time required: 120 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – tasks within the Design Thinking unit are designed to encourage students to work independently and in groups to develop their own ideas and actions. The teacher will need to observe and monitor groups, conferencing when appropriate and providing support to interpret and present data and plan and implement actions.

Resources required:

Related professional development: Introduce Primary Students to Design Thinking.

Keywords: sustainability, resources, materials, recycling, data, collection, chart, graph.

The information and statistics included in this document are approximate and have been simplified for educational/illustrative purposes. They should not be relied upon for any other purpose.

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

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • … understand what an end-user is
  • … be able to empathise with end-users.

Success criteria: Students can...

  • … survey, interview and/or observe community members’ perspectives on and habits relating to recycling
  • … conduct surveys and interviews to find out about the issue of recycling
  • ... consider the reasons for differing points of view
  • … record and display data, making use of charts, tables and graphs.

Teacher content information: What do you do with the things you no longer want or need, such as the packaging from the food you buy or bottles you drink from? Many of us have grown up thinking of this as 'waste', as something we need to just get rid of. But what if we think of these materials as a resource for creating new and useful products? What if we can re-imagine how we think about and use these materials?

Thinking of waste items as the resources required for creating new products is a great way to s

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