Constructive Learning: Transformation Level

K-4 Lesson

Engineering Solutions for Waste Disposal

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Grade Level


Classroom Configuration

  • Whole group instruction, using a projector and / or interactive white board
  • Whole group activity, with small groups using mobile laptops simultaneously

Arizona State Content Standards

  • Science

Strand 3: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

      1. Concept 1: Change in Environments
        1. PO 2: Evaluate the consequences of environmental occurrences that happen either rapidly (e.g., fire, flood, tornado) or over a long period of time (e.g., drought, melting ice caps, the greenhouse effect, erosion).
      2. Concept 2: Science and Technology in Society
        1. PO 2: Describe benefits (e.g., easy communications, rapid transportation) and risks (e.g., pollution, destruction of natural resources) related to the use of technology.
        2. PO 3: Design and construct a technological solution to a common problem or need using common materials.

Strand 4: Life Science

      1. Concept 3: Organisms and Environments
        1. PO 4: Describe ways in which resources can be conserved (e.g., by reducing, reusing, recycling, finding substitutes).

Common Core State Standards: Math
Mathematical Practice
Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
Model with mathematics.
Use appropriate tools strategically.
Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
Use the four operations with whole numbers to solve problems.
Solve multistep word problems posed with whole numbers and having whole-number answers using the four operations, including problems in which remainders must be interpreted. Represent these problems using equations with a letter standing for the unknown quantity. Assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies including rounding
Use place value understanding and properties of operations to perform multi-digit arithmetic.
Multiply a whole number of up to four digits by a one-digit whole number, and multiply two two-digit numbers, using strategies based on place value and the properties of operations. Illustrate and explain the calculation by using equations, rectangular arrays, and/or area models.
Find whole-number quotients and remainders with up to four-digit dividends and one-digit divisors, using strategies based on place value, the properties of operations, and/or the relationship between multiplication and division. Illustrate and explain the calculation by using equations, rectangular arrays, and/or area models.
Solve problems involving measurement and conversion of measurements from a larger unit to a smaller unit.
Use the four operations to solve word problems involving distances, intervals of time, liquid volumes, masses of objects, and money, including problems involving simple fractions or decimals, and problems that require expressing measurements given in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Represent measurement quantities using diagrams such as number line diagrams that feature a measurement scale.


Arizona Educational Technology Standards (2009)

  1. Strand 1: Creativity and Innovation
    1. Concept 1: Knowledge and Ideas
      1. PO 1: Evaluate information to generate ideas and processes.
    2. Concept 3: Trends and Possibilities
      1. PO 1: Identify patterns and trends to generate questions and draw conclusions.
    3. Concept 4: Original Works
      1. PO 2: Use digital collaborative tools to analyze information to produce original works and express ideas.
  2. Strand 2: Communication and Collaboration
    1. Concept 1: Effective Communications and Digital Interactions
      1. PO 1: Communicate digitally with others by selecting and using a variety of appropriate communication tools.
    2. Concept 2: Digital Solutions
      1. PO 1: Contribute to a cooperative learning project and demonstrate effective group behaviors while using digital collaborative resources.
  3. Strand 3: Research and Information Literacy
    1. Concept 2: Processing
      1. PO 4: Use appropriate digital tools to synthesize research information and to develop new ideas.
      2. PO 5: Follow copyright laws when using text, images, videos and/or other sources and obtain permission to use the work of others, and cite resources appropriately.
  4. Strand 4: Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Decision Making
    1. Concept 1: Investigation
      1. PO 1: Identify an authentic issue and collaborate as a class to define an essential question using digital tools and resources.
    2. Concept 2: Exploring Solutions
      1. PO 1: Manage a learning project using digital planning tools to develop solutions.
      2. PO 2: Generate alternative solutions using collected resources and data.
  5. Strand 5: Digital Citizenship
    1. Concept 1: Safety and Ethics
      1. PO 6: Articulate how to respect the privacy of others' information and digital workspace.
    2. Concept 3: Impact of Technology
      1. PO 1: Provide examples of technologies that might be used to solve a specific economic, environmental, health, political, scientific, or social problem.
  6. Strand 6: Technology Operations and Concepts
    1. Concept 2: Application
      1. PO 5: Create multimedia presentations with multiple pages, audio, and transitions for individual assignments.
      2. PO 6: Download, store, and accurately cite web resources.


  1. TSW explain the problem of waste disposal.
  2. TSW calculate and estimate data related to waste.
  3. TSW research past and/or current solutions to this problem and identify the effectiveness of those solutions.
  4. TSW design a new solution to this problem and explore the risks and rewards.
  5. TSW prepare a presentation to educate others and share the proposal.
  1. The teacher and students will discuss and explore the problem of waste disposal. The end result of the discussion is a Driving Question.
  2. Videos (example from Discovery Streaming, “Land: What Happens to the Garbage We Throw Away”) and images (such as ones of the Garbage Barge) can be used to build upon prior knowledge.
  3. The teacher will ask the class to brainstorm items they throw away at home and at school. The class will then group these items into categories (example: paper, plastic, food, etc.) The teacher and class will create a mind map to show the information using a digital web tool.
  4. Students, in groups of 3, will view the interactive web site What We Do Adds Up activity and solve the problems.
  5. Groups will report back to the class and reflect on the answers and impact that one person can make to help reduce waste.
  6. Students will then work with their group to read the Introduction, Solid Waste, and Possible Solutions for Solid Waste information on the Exhibits Collection - Garbage web site. Groups will answer the discussion questions, with the teacher facilitating the discussion. (See Development section in Engineering Solutions Lesson Plan.)
  7. Students will connect toTrash Timeline, choose three significant technological advances from this timeline and answer the following questions:
    1. What problem do you think this technology was designed to solve?
    2. What were the benefits of this engineering solution? Are we still experiencing its benefits?
    3. Were there any drawbacks? If so, what were they?
    4. Could this engineering solution have contributed to our current garbage problem? How?
  8. Students will access the Recycle City web site and play the Clean Up Dumptown game. The teacher will assign groups the goal of reducing the amount of paper going into the landfill as much as possible, while spending as little money as possible. Students will reflect on their experience in their learning journals (digital or paper and pencil) or in a class discussion.
  9. Students will create a collaborative presentation, choosing any tool they are familiar with, to share what they have learned and propose a solution to the problem of waste disposal.
  10. Presentations will be shared with classmates, other classes, and parents through the classroom or school web site.
  1. Computers with Internet access
  2. Computer connected to projector
  3. Science NetLinks Engineering Solutions Lesson Plan

  1. Recycling video: Discovery Streaming videos or PBS Kids
  2. Online Mind Mapping and Brainstorming - MindMeister,, or Popplet
  3. What We Do Adds Up from TeacherSource - Math

  1. Exhibits Collection - Garbage

  1. Trash Timeline

  1. Recycle City web site

  1. Keynote, PowerPoint, or free web tool, such as Google Presentations, Glogster.Edu, Prezi, or PBWorks edu (or any other tool of students’ choice)
  2. RubiStar - Multimedia Rubric

  1. Teacher will observe and check for understanding throughout the group discussions and activities.
  2. Teacher will read students’ reflections in their learning journal.
Teacher will use a rubric to assess the collaborative presentation (RubiStar - Multimedia.)

Technology Integration Matrix





Goal Directed