Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson, students will discover ways that they can incorporate permaculture into their own designs and develop the details around a designed solution. Students work in groups to conduct an assessment of the site chosen for their project, and then develop a design brief to communicate the details of their design. Students share their designs with their class through a gallery walk format, giving an opportunity to view each other’s work. This lesson can be taught using a site at school or your local community and can be run as a hypothetical or, even better, as a real project.  

Although this lesson can be taught by itself, it also forms the fifth part in a unit of 6 lessons that can be delivered in sequence to take your students through a complete permaculture project design process. 

These lessons have been created in partnership with Faber-Castell, who has long understood the importance of creativity to all people, especially to young people. It is also continuously searching for environmentally friendly processes and high-quality materials to enhance children’s creative experience throughout every development phase. For more information about Faber-Castell, click here.

Learning intentions:

  • Students understand how the principles and ethics of permaculture can be used in their own design solutions.
  • Students will understand how to create a design brief.

21st century skills:

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 7 & 8 Design and Technologies

  • Analyse how food and fibre are produced when designing managed environments and how these can become more sustainable (ACTDEK032
  • Investigate the ways in which products, services and environments evolve locally, regionally and globally and how competing factors including social, ethical and sustainability considerations are prioritised in the development of technologies and designed solutions for preferred futures (ACTDEK029)
  • Independently develop criteria for success to evaluate design ideas, processes and solutions and their sustainability (ACTDEP038)
  • Use project management processes when working individually and collaboratively to coordinate production of designed solutions (ACTDEP039)

Year 9 & 10 Design and Technologies

  • Critically analyse factors, including social, ethical and sustainability considerations, that impact on designed solutions for global preferred futures and the complex design and production processes involved (ACTDEK040)
  • Investigate and make judgments on the ethical and sustainable production and marketing of food and fibre (ACTDEK044)
  • Investigate and make judgments, within a range of technologies specialisations, on how technologies can be combined to create designed solutions (ACTDEK047)
  • Critique needs or opportunities to develop design briefs and investigate and select an increasingly sophisticated range of materials, systems, components, tools and equipment to develop design ideas (ACTDEP048)
  • Develop, modify and communicate design ideas by applying design thinking, creativity, innovation and enterprise skills of increasing sophistication (ACTDEP049)

Syllabus outcomes: D&T5.3.1, D&T5.3.2, D&T5.6.3, D&T5.1.1, D&T5.4.1, D&T5.5.1 and SC4-13ES, T4.1.2, T4.1.3, T4.4.1, T4.6.2

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Ethical Understanding

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability 

Relevant parts of Year 7 & 8 achievement standards: Students explain how social, ethical, technical and sustainability considerations influence the design of innovative and enterprising solutions to meet a range of present and future needs. They explain how the features of technologies influence design and production decisions. Students explain a range of needs, opportunities or problems and define them in terms of functional requirements and constraints. They collect, authenticate and interpret data from a range of sources to assist in making informed judgements. Students generate and document in digital and non-digital form, design ideas for different audiences using appropriate technical terms, and graphical representation techniques including algorithms.

Relevant parts of Year 9 & 10 achievement standards: Students produce designed solutions for identified needs or opportunities, students evaluate the features of technologies and their appropriateness for purpose for one or more of the technologies contexts. Students create designed solutions for one or more of the technologies contexts based on a critical evaluation of needs or opportunities. They establish detailed criteria for success, including sustainability considerations, and use these to evaluate their ideas and designed solutions and processes. They create and connect design ideas and processes of increasing complexity and justify decisions.

Topic: Sustainability

Unit of work: Creative Sustainability – Exploring Permaculture – Design & Technology – Years 7 – 10

Time required: 60+ mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate class discussion

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one copy per student. Computer access for students. Students’ workbooks. Optional – Permaculture Ethics And Principles. Optional – Project Choices Worksheet.

Keywords: permaculture, gardening, food, fibre, agriculture, design, designed solutions, creating designs, Faber-Castell.

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 how the principles and ethics of permaculture can be used in their own design solutions.
  • ... understand how to create a design brief.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... develop a design brief in response to criteria.
  • ... contribute to class discussions.
  • ... work independently and collaboratively.

Teacher content information: Although it can be taught in isolation, this lesson also forms the fifth part in a unit of 6 lessons, designed to introduce permaculture thinking to your design class and to encourage them to consider the ethical impacts of their own work as designers. To allow flexibility for you and your students, this unit is designed so that you can work through all 6 lessons in sequence, choose only a number of them, or use one individually (whatever you need, we've got you covered).

Permaculture is a creative design process based on whole-systems thinking. It describes a set of a

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: "Sitting at our back doorsteps, all we need to live a good life lies about us." - Bill Mollison

Project Proposal Template

Work in your groups to fill in the following details about your permaculture project.

Draft Design Brief:

a. What does your project aim to do?





b. How will your project achieve its aims?






Final Design Brief:

  • Project Title:
  • Location:
  • Project Managers:


Background: Set the scene. What are the challenges that your school is facing? What opportunities are there for improvement?




Project Justification: What are the goals of your project? How will they address the challenges and capitalise on the opportunities?




Needs Justification: List the people that are expected to benefit from your project.



Identified Need/s
(what does your school community need?)
(use your observations and/or your survey statistics, e.g. 60% of survey respondents identified this as a very import
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