Activity Introduction

mobile phones for recycling heroQuick summary: In this activity students will examine the increasing volume of mobile phones being used and the exportation of obsolete mobile phones to developing countries. They will consider the social, economic and environmental impacts of this issue and gain an understanding of the impact of mobile phone use and disposal on different communities around the world. Students will interpret data from the MobileMuster program and undertake purposeful investigations when interpreting and analysing the data.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 8.39.40 AMFollowing this lesson plan is an ideal way for your school to take part in MobileMuster. You’ll be joining thousands of amazing teachers in making a difference and creating positive environmental change. Take part in the Schools Recycling Right Challenge for Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week. Register your lesson or other activities today!


Learning goals:

  • Students understand the role and impact of resource use both in Australia and in other countries;
  • Students begin to understand that resources don’t just ‘go away’ when they are sent somewhere else;
  • Students will consider how their resource disposal affects other parts of the world;
  • Students take responsibility for their own resource use.

General Capabilities: Literacy, Critical and creative thinking, Personal and social capabilities, Ethical understanding

Australian Curriculum content description:

Year 7 Geography:

  • Apply geographical concepts to draw conclusions based on the analysis of the data and information collected (ACHGS052)
  • Reflect on their learning to propose individual and collective action in response to a contemporary geographical challenge, taking account of environmental, economic and social considerations, and predict the expected outcomes of their proposal (ACHGS054)

Year 7 English

  • Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, selecting aspects of subject matter and particular language, visual, and audio features to convey information and ideas (ACELY1725)
  • Edit for meaning by removing repetition, refining ideas, reordering sentences and adding or substituting words for impact (ACELY1726)

Year 8 Geography:

  • Develop geographically significant questions and plan an inquiry using appropriate geographical methodologies and concepts (ACHGS055)
  • Collect, select and record relevant geographical data and information, using ethical protocols, from appropriate primary and secondary sources (ACHGS056)

Year 8 English

  • Create imaginative, informative and persuasive texts that raise issues, report events and advance opinions, using deliberate language and textual choices, and including digital elements as appropriate (ACELY1736)
  • Experiment with text structures and language features to refine and clarify ideas to improve the effectiveness of students’ own texts (ACELY1810)
  • Use a range of software, including word processing programs, to create, edit and publish texts imaginatively (ACELY1738)

Syllabus OutcomesGE4-7, GE4-8, EN4-2A, EN4-4B

Topic: Consumption, National Recycling Week.

Time required: 2 – 4 lessons

Resources required: The Story of ElectronicsThe Secret Life of Mobile Phones,  Mobile Phone Debate Cards, Optional – Interactive whiteboard 

Digital learning opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities, The Story of ElectronicsThe Secret Life of Mobile PhonesHow Many Mobiles?, Interactive whiteboard (IWB).

Homework and extension opportunities: Using the How Many Mobiles? application students can calculate the number of mobile phones that their community potentially has.

Keywords: Waste, litter, e-waste, mobile phone, consumption, MobileMuster, exportation.

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


Teacher Worksheet

Debate heroTeacher Preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students begin to understand the impact that disposing of mobile phones has on their community and how sending them to another destination does not make them 'go away'. Students will interpret data from the MobileMuster program and undertake purposeful investigations when interpreting and analysing the data.

Teacher content information: These MobileMuster lessons cover the life cycle of mobile phones and look at issues relating to the materials used in mobile phones, problems associated with re-use and systems for managing and recycling mobile phone waste.

It is hoped that the knowledge gained through the MobileMuster learning modules will increase student’s knowledge, engagement, critical thinking and commitment to living in a sustainable society. MobileMuster Teachers Guide

Student and classroom organisation:

Step 1. Watch The Story of Electronics video (7.50 min) and/or The Secret Life of Mobile Phones (4.50 min). These videos rais

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Student Worksheet

Mobile Muster debate cards

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The Mobile Reuse Debate

Research: A debate helps us to think through a complex issue and reconsider their opinions. In small groups you will research the topic and consider a range of issues about mobile phone recycling, including:

  1. Lower environmental standards in developing countries
  2. International conventions and legal requirements of exporting
  3. Occupational health and safety issues
  4. The materials value of mobile phones.

Preparing for a debate: Read through your groups research and work out the points they are going to make, provide examples and detailed explanations. Ensure your team pre-empts counter arguments and prepare for rebuttals.

Debate rules:

  • Be polite and courteous.
  • Listen attentively.
  • Be respectful and supportive of peers.
  • Avoid inappropriate noises.
  • Speak only when recognised by the moderator.
  • Speak clearly, slowly, and loud enough to be heard by the audience.
  • Speak with passion and excitement.
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