Sustainability in Action With Year 7 Design

The Year 7 classes have been busy making flatpack products for sale at the school fair.  As with any production process there are materials being used and waste being created. In order to figure out ways to minimise waste, we are using Design Thinking and problem solving skills to develop strategies and systems to minimise our output of waste. We have started sorting the cardboard waste into different sizes to reuse as much as possible. With the smaller pieces we decided to tear them up and soak them in water and make a pulp which the students quite enjoyed doing. We then made an old fashioned brick mould and rammer, and we are now moulding the waste cardboard into a standard Australian Size house brick. This will then be dried in the sun and we will brainstorm ideas for its use or other applications that we may be able to create. One may be BBQ blocks but this material may burn with too much smoke so we will need to test this. We all use products everyday and if we are to preserve our environment we need to think more about reusing waste and bringing it back into the production cycle in some way.

This production activity has been full of exciting problems that we have needed to solve, and we have been learning to collaborate, and be efficient in both the way we work and the way our product is made. It has been a fun experience for everyone, and at the minimum can reduce landfill and be good for the environment.

Many inquiry and research questions arise when we try new ways to solve  problems:

  • How is cardboard made and are there any toxic glues in cardboard?
  • Will the brick burn and produce too much smoke?
  • How long does it take to dry out a brick?
  • How strong will the brick be how can we test its compressive strength?
  • Will the drying process cause cracks?
  • Can we design a mechanism to compress the wet pulp down?
  • Can we use paper and different types of cardboard?
  • What other products could we use the pulp to make?
  • What is the volume of waste that is saved for landfill?


Glen Morgan | TOK Coordinator, DT Teacher