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Garbage Gurus

  • Key Stage 3
  • Popular Activity
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Communication
Topic: Human impacts

More and more local councils are introducing food recycling schemes. This activity looks at the science behind the schemes and gets students to consider how recycling food – and reducing food waste – contribute to sustainability. Students then communicate their findings to the audience at a public meeting.

This is a Climate Futures activity

Published: 20th May 2008
Reviews & Comments: 3

Learning objectives

Personal Capability Objective:
Communication – to show ideas and information in different ways.
Science Objective:
To understand how food waste can be recycled and how this can contribute to sustainability.

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Ages 11-14

KS3 Science National Curriculum (from September 2008)

Key concepts: Applications and implications of science
1.2a – Exploring how the creative application of scientific ideas can bring about technological developments and consequent changes in the way people think and behave.

Key processes: Communication
2.3a – Use appropriate methods to communicate scientific information and contribute to presentations and discussions about scientific issues.

Range and content
3.4c – Human activity and natural processes can lead to changes in the environment.

Curriculum opportunities
4g – Recognise the importance of sustainability in scientific and technological developments.

Running the activity

Introducing the task
• Display page 1. Explore students' views and experience of food recycling and discuss the possible benefits and problems involved.
• Introduce the task on page 2. Emphasise the aims of the Green Valley food recycling scheme. Emphasise the waste 'hierarchy' of reduce, reuse and recycle. Clarify that food waste includes things like potato peelings, not just uneaten food.
• Display page 3. Ask students to discuss briefly and give initial responses to one or two of the questions. This is an opportunity to explore initial views and identify misconceptions.
• Discuss the learning objectives. Discuss why it is important to communicate in ways that are appropriate to the audience. Emphasise that this task focuses on exploring different communication strategies.

Running the Main Task
• Display page 2 again to remind students of the task.
• Organise the students in teams of 4 or 5. Give each group one question card cut from a printout of page 3 and copies of the information sheets (pages 4 and 5).
• Each group identifies key points to answer their question. They plan the best way of communicating these points at the public meeting, bearing in mind that the audience varies in age and in the ways they best take in information. Each group will prepare paper-based or electronic resources to support their presentations.
• Groups give their presentations to the whole class as the 'public meeting'. The audience asks supplementary questions.

Reviewing the Task
• Students discuss how well the methods of presentation matched the information and ideas being conveyed.
• Ask students whether their views have changed. How do they feel food waste management contributes to sustainability?
• Get students to review the task using the assessment for learning Smart Grid.

The dilemmas sheet (page 7) is an opportunity to encourage the Personal Capability of creativity. Students should be encouraged to think of, share and explore new and unusual ideas, putting forward as wide a range of suggestions as possible, not just obvious solutions.

The dilemmas sheet is a basis for discussion about situations where individuals or organisations have to make decisions, and possibly compromises, about environmental issues. Individual 'dilemmas' could be allocated firstly to pairs, then to teams of 4 to 6 and then fed back to the whole class. The class could be encouraged to set up a dilemmas board to extend those shown on the sheet. Students would add additional dilemmas and their suggested responses.

Make a Difference
The task is completed by a making a difference activity that gives pupils a focus as to where and how they can explore things further. The make a difference activity is in effect a stimulus to further extended work and proactive involvement in engaging with the issues of climate change.

News links

Recycle Now
Advice and ideas on recycling
Centre for Alternative Technology
Ideas for low impact living
Recycle More
Ideas for separating different types of waste for recycling at school

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?


Feb 9th, 2012

3 Star

TN looks good as it will fit with my other lessons perfectly but I couldn't download the PDF file link :( hence neutral rating for now.

Reviewer: Xue Han

Garbage Gurus review

Jun 16th, 2009

5 Star

very useful

Reviewer: Kelly Draper


May 28th, 2009

4 Star

This activity enabled me and my year 7 class to use various forms of technologies to get across the message of waste management. We used handheld playstations and laptops to get across our message

Reviewer: Kimberley Birtwhistle