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Design Thinking


6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Engineering


70 minutes

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West, Hawai'i


Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Forms


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Solid Waste Management Environmental Engineer

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Apr 13, 2024
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In this lesson, students explore the components of a landfill, focusing on how landfill liners prevent leaks and learning how solid waste is one of the causes of climate change.

Step 1 - Inquire: Students learn how long it takes for a plastic bottle to decompose and the importance of landfill design to protect groundwater.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students learn the components of landfill designs.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students experiment with different materials to find out which material is best at preventing water leakage and relate the experiment to landfill engineering.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson aligns with Hawai’i’'s Nā Hopena A'o HĀ-BREATH Framework.

  • Students learn about landfill engineering with an online activity and hands-on collaboration with their peers to develop a model of a landfill liner.

  • Teacher assists students by presenting to the students the requirements and materials they need to meet the role-playing presentation requirements.

  • This lesson could be taught in science class to teach students about engineering and design.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teacher can prepare the landfill liner materials in advance or provide time for students to measure and cut the material.

  • If students record data by hand, teacher should print the data recording sheet in advance.


  • Students can complete the activity in the Inspire section outside to minimize water being spilled in the classroom.

  • Students have the option to work individually or in pairs during the Investigate and Inspire sections.

  • Teacher has the option of ending the lesson using one or two of the exit ticket questions. Students can complete the exit ticket on paper or digitally.

  • Students can research local landfills and see how they are designed.

  • Students can contact local landfills with questions on landfill design and groundwater leakage.

  • Optional service-learning trip: Students can complete a community trash clean-up.
Scientist Notes

In this lesson, students can learn about the effects of solid waste on the ecosystem and groundwater. Additionally, they will learn how to manage garbage more sustainably and with responsible consumption, including how geoengineering is an excellent technique for managing waste at landfills. After carefully fact-checking all the lesson materials, we determined that this lesson is accurate and has passed our science review.


Primary Standards

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • MS-ETS1-2 Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
      • MS-ETS1-3 Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.

Supporting Standard

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
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