Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students explore the topic of e-waste. They begin by thinking about our current household recycling schemes and how e-waste might fit into this system. They then explore some of the problems associated with e-waste, in particular why we are generating so much of it. Students think critically about why we feel we want or need new types of technology before working collaboratively to develop a series of questions to help students think through future electronic purchases. 

Cool Australia’s War On Waste lessons have been developed in partnership with Lune Media and with support from the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network. These lessons have been designed to lead students through a deeper understanding of some of the big issues relating to waste in Australia and to support them to take action to reduce the impact of waste on our environment. To access the full War On Waste unit for Years 4 to 6, click here.

Learning intentions:

  • Students understand what e-waste is and where it comes from
  • Students understand some of the environmental impacts of e-waste
  • Students identify questions we can ask ourselves before buying electronic products
  • Students are introduced to the concepts of planned and perceived obsolescence (Year 6).

21st century skills: 

CommunicatingCommunity EngagementCritical ThinkingProblem SolvingTeam Work        

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 4 Design and Technologies

  • Recognise the role of people in design and technologies occupations and explore factors, including sustainability that impact on the design of products, services and environments to meet community needs (ACTDEK010)

Years 5 & 6 Design and Technologies

  • Examine how people in design and technologies occupations address competing considerations, including sustainability in the design of products, services, and environments for current and future use (ACTDEK019)

Year 4 HASS

  • Pose questions to investigate people, events, places and issues (ACHASSI073)
  • The use and management of natural resources and waste, and the different views on how to do this sustainably (ACHASSK090)

Year 5 HASS

  • Develop appropriate questions to guide an inquiry about people, events, developments, places, systems and challenges (ACHASSI094)
  • Work in groups to generate responses to issues and challenges (ACHASSI102)
  • The difference between needs and wants and why choices need to be made about how limited resources are used (ACHASSK119)
  • Influences on consumer choices and methods that can be used to help make informed personal consumer and financial choices (ACHASSK121)

Year 6 HASS

  • Develop appropriate questions to guide an inquiry about people, events, developments, places, systems and challenges (ACHASSI122)
  • Work in groups to generate responses to issues and challenges (ACHASSI130)
  • The effect that consumer and financial decisions can have on the individual, the broader community and the environment (ACHASSK150)

Syllabus outcomes: ST2-11LW, ST2-14BE, ST2-15I, ST2-16P, ST3-14BE, ST3-15I, ST3-16P, GE2-2, GE2-3, GE2-4, GE3-4.

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Literacy.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.8.

Relevant parts of Year 4 Design and Technologies achievement standards: Students describe how social, technical and sustainability factors influence the design of solutions to meet present and future needs.

Relevant parts of Year 5 & 6 Design and Technologies achievement standards: Students explain how social, ethical, technical and sustainability considerations influence the design of solutions to meet a range of present and future needs.

Relevant parts of Year 4 HASS achievement standards: Students identify the interconnections between components of the environment and between people and the environment. Students develop questions to investigate.

Relevant parts of Year 5 HASS achievement standards: Students describe factors that influence their choices as consumers and identify strategies that can be used to inform these choices. They develop questions for an investigation and work with others to generate alternative responses to an issue or challenge.

Relevant parts of Year 6 HASS achievement standards: Students explain why it is important to be informed when making consumer and financial decisions. They develop appropriate questions to frame an investigation and collaboratively generate alternative responses to an issue.

Topic: Waste, sustainability.

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work: War On Waste – Years 4-6.

Time required: 60 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Low – lead students in discussions, oversee group activities.

Resources required:

Keywords: War On Waste, e-waste, technology, recycling, questions, consumption.

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

Worksheets

Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation

Learning intentions: Students will…

  • ... understand what e-waste is and where it comes from
  • ... understand some of the environmental impacts of e-waste
  • ... identify questions we can ask ourselves before buying electronic products
  • … be introduced to the concepts of planned and perceived obsolescence (Year 6).

Success criteria: Students can…

  • … work collaboratively
  • … generate and test questions
  • … use scenarios to test ideas
  • … participate in group and class discussions
  • … think critically about personal waste production.

Teacher content information: In Australia, we began addressing the issue of waste in the 1960s and '70s with litter campaigns like Keep Australia Beautiful and Tidy Town Awards. With such a long history of waste reduction campaigns, you would think we had got on top of the waste issue; however, as the recent recycling crisis shows, we're still trying to solve the issue of waste in Australia.

Why is this the case? War On Was

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: What electronic items have you used today?

Why Do We Make So Much E-Waste?

Read the following, which describes a small scene from the War On Waste and then reflect on this scene using the questions below:

  • Natalie looks around at the pile of e-waste her family would produce over 10 years and says: "We're a very spoilt generation which upgrade way too easily." Then Craig says: "You're not alone. So many of us do this. The technology nowadays moves faster, so we end up chucking out stuff that works."

Your teacher will give you some questions that you can use to reflect on this scene. Write these questions below and work in pairs to discuss your answers to these questions:

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Reflection

Work independently or in pairs to reflect on this lesson and respond to the following questions:

What did you find most interesting or surprising about this lesson?

What is still challenging or confusing for you?

Can you think of any products that we use in our day-t

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