What a waste! Lesson plan 11-14

In this three part activity, students learn about the amount of food packaging the UK disposes of each year, and how much if it is recycled; before designing a campaign to improve recycling and re-use rates in their homes. You can use the lessons when teaching about waste and also when teaching children how to record, analyse and present data using graphs and charts. 

Lesson 1: What is packaging waste? 

Homework activity: How much packaging do you use at home? 

Lesson 2: Analysing the homework data 

Lesson 3: Graphing real-life UK waste statistics

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  • Age groups: 11-14s
  • Subjects: Design & technology, Mathematics, Science, PSE
  • Topics: Waste




Pupils should be taught to:

·         construct and interpret appropriate tables, charts, and diagrams, including frequency tables, bar charts, pie charts, and pictograms for categorical data, and vertical line (or bar) charts for ungrouped and grouped numerical data

·         describe simple mathematical relationships between two variables (bivariate data) in observational and experimental contexts and illustrate using scatter graphs.



Working scientifically

Analysis and evaluation:

·         Apply mathematical concepts and calculate results

·         Present observations and data, including identifying patterns and using observations, measurements and data to draw conclusions

·         Evaluate data, showing awareness of potential sources of random and systematic error

·         Identify further questions arising from their results.


Subject content – Chemistry

Earth and atmosphere

·         Earth as a source of limited resources and the efficacy of recycling



Pupils should be taught about:

·         The roles played by public institutions and voluntary groups in society, and the ways in which citizens work together to improve their communities, including opportunities to participate in school-based activities 


Design and technology


·         Understand developments in design and technology, its impact on individuals, society and the environment, and the responsibilities of designers, engineers and technologists.





Information handling

Data and analysis

When analysing information or collecting data of my own, I can use my understanding of how bias may arise and how sample size can affect precision, to ensure that the data allows for fair conclusions to be drawn. MTH 3-20b

I can display data in a clear way using a suitable scale, by choosing appropriately from an extended range of tables, charts, diagrams and graphs, making effective use of technology. MTH 3-21a



Technological developments in society and business

Awareness of technological developments (Past, Present and Future), including how they work

I understand how scientific and technological developments have contributed to changes in everyday products. TCH 3-05a


Craft, design, engineering and graphics

Exploring uses of materials

I can explore the properties and performance of materials before justifying the most appropriate material for a task. TCH 3-10a




Design and technology


Pupils should be given opportunities to develop their design and technology capability through:

Activities in which they learn about the responsible use of materials considering issues of sustainability


They should be given opportunities to:

·         Be creative

·         Be innovative and enterprising

·         Work independently and in groups



Developing numerical reasoning

Represent and communicate

Learners are able to:

·         Select and construct appropriate charts, diagrams and graphs with suitable scales

·         Interpret graphs that describe real-life situations, including those used in the media, recognising that some graphs may be misleading



Learners are able to:

·         Interpret mathematical information; draw inferences from graphs, diagrams and data, including discussion on limitations of data

·         Draw conclusions from data and recognise that some conclusions may be misleading or uncertain


Using data skills

Collect and record data / Present and analyse data / Interpret results


Learners should be able to:

·         interpret diagrams and graphs (including pie charts)

·         construct a wide range of graphs and diagrams to represent discrete and continuous data

·         interpret diagrams and graphs to compare sets of data

·         test hypotheses, making decisions about how best to record and analyse the information from large data sets

·         construct and interpret graphs and diagrams (including pie charts) to represent discrete or continuous data, with the learner choosing an appropriate scale

·         examine results critically, select and justify choice of statistics recognising the limitations of any assumptions and their effect on the conclusions drawn


Personal and social education


Active citizenship

Learners should be given opportunities to:

·         Participate in school and the wider community


Sustainable development and global citizenship

Learners should be given opportunities to:

Develop a sense of personal responsibility towards local and global issues

And to understand:

The key issues of sustainable development and global citizenship and the need to reflect on personal decisions about lifestyle choices

Global issues which threaten the planet





Pupils should be given opportunities to:

·         Communicate logically by speech, writing, drawings, diagrams, charts, tables, bar charts, line graphs, videos and ICT packages


Interdependence of organisms

Pupils use and develop their skills, knowledge and understanding by investigating how humans are independent yet rely on other organisms for survival, applying this to life in countries with different levels of economic development.

They should be given opportunities to study:

·         how human activity affects the global environment, e.g. acid rain,greenhouse effect, and the measures taken to minimise any negative effects and monitor them, e.g. by Earth observation satellites


The sustainable Earth

Pupils use and develop their skills, knowledge and understanding by investigating the materials in the Earth and its atmosphere and how they can change, and apply this in contemporary contexts.

They should be given opportunities to study:

·         the properties of sustainable materials and how these are related to their uses in everyday life, e.g. in the construction and manufacturing industries, and the importance of sustainability.


Northern Ireland


Mathematics with Financial Capability


Pupils should have opportunities to develop:

·         Knowledge and understanding of:

o   Handling data


·         The application of mathematical skills to real life and work situations


Developing pupils as contributors to society

Young people should have opportunities to:

·         Analyse and interpret information patterns relating to local and global trends

·         Critically examine the use and misuse of mathematics to justify/support particular attitudes/opinions in different media, and the interpretation of data


Science and technology: science


Pupils should have opportunities to:

·         Develop skills in scientific methods of enquiry to further scientific knowledge and understanding:

o   Presenting and interpreting results


Developing pupils as contributors to the economy and the environment

Pupils should have opportunities to:

·         Investigate… specific measures to improve and protect the environment


Science and technology: technology and design

Developing pupils as contributors to the economy and the environment

·         Pursue design solutions using environmental friendly materials and energy sources.