Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students use design thinking to empathise with an audience and define their needs to inform their eventual upcycled timber design. Students then use the needs of the identified user to ideate and prototype a design.

Subjects: Design and Technology

Year Levels: 3 & 4

Topics: Design Thinking, Sustainability. 

Teaching Time: 50 minutes

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work NRW.

This lesson has been developed as part of the Schools Recycle Right Challenge for Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week. Register your lesson or other activities so they can be counted towards the national achievement and to receive other free support materials.

If you liked this lesson, and are in NSW, reach out to the BINGO team to enquire about a free recycling session. Click here to find out more.

21st-century skills: 

Community EngagementCritical ThinkingEmpathy  

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 3 & 4 Design and Technology:

  • examine design and technologies occupations and factors including sustainability that impact on the design of products, services and environments to meet community needs (AC9TDE4K01)
  • use given or co-developed design criteria including sustainability to evaluate design ideas and solutions (AC9TDE4P04)

Syllabus outcomes: ST2-11LW, ST2-14BE, ST2-15I, ST2-16P, ST2-5WT.

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social Capability.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability.

Relevant parts of Year 3 & 4 achievement standards: Students describe how people design products, services and environments to meet the needs of people, including sustainability

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – Support students in independent work.

Resources required:

  • A device capable of presenting a video to the class
  • Bluetack or masking tape
  • Coloured pencils
  • Ice cream sticks or straws
  • Individual devices capable of taking photos – one per student
  • Recycling Timber Factsheet
  • Student Design Workbook – one copy per student.

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...

  • ... create a solution to avoid timber going to landfill
  • ... understand how to improve the sustainability of building materials through the example of upcycling timber.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... choose and justify materials and features for a design addressing the needs of an identified user
  • ... critically evaluate and reflect on their work.

Teacher content information:

The design process
A design process is an approach for creating solutions to practical, real-world problems by breaking down the project into manageable chunks and thoroughly working through the challenges framed by each unique phase to arrive at a refined idea.

Architects, engineers, scientists and other thinkers use the design process to create real-world solutions for people. The process can also be a way to explore, define and action social and environmental change.

The empathise phase

The first stage of the design process r

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