Lesson 21

Food Waste Journal (optional)

Warm-up: Notice and Wonder: Food Waste (10 minutes)

Narrative

The purpose of this warm-up is to introduce students to the context of food waste, which will be useful when students keep a journal of food waste in a later activity. While students may notice and wonder many things about this illustration, what students consider to be food waste in their neighborhood or community is the important discussion point.

Launch

  • Groups of 2
  • Display the image.
  • “What do you notice? What do you wonder?”
  • 1 minute: quiet think time

Activity

  • “Discuss your thinking with your partner.”
  • 1 minute: partner discussion
  • Share and record responses.

Student Facing

What do you notice? What do you wonder?
trash dumpster filled with eaten and rotten food.

Student Response

For access, consult one of our IM Certified Partners.

Activity Synthesis

  • "What kinds of things do you think we throw out when we cook or eat at home or outside?” (food scraps, leftover food, spoiled ingredients or food, packaging for food)
  • “What are some reasons we throw out food?” (It’s spoiled. It smells or looks bad. We don't want it anymore. It’s too old. It fell on the floor.)
  • Record responses and keep it displayed.

Activity 1: Food Waste in the United States (15 minutes)

Narrative

The purpose of this activity is to make reasoned estimates about the weight of food waste produced by individuals, families, and the school community each week and each month. Answers will vary widely based on the size of families, the class, and the school. Students use multiplication and division appropriately in their estimates.

MLR7 Compare and Connect. Synthesis: After all strategies have been presented, lead a discussion comparing, contrasting, and connecting the different approaches. Ask, “Did anyone solve the problem the same way, but would explain it differently?” and “How did the average amount of food waste show up in each method?”
Advances: Representing, Conversing

Launch

  • groups of 2
  • "The average person in the United States throws out about 219 pounds of trash related to food waste each year. We are going to estimate the amount of food waste we produce based on this data."

Activity

  • 5 minutes: individual work time
  • 5 minutes: partner discussion
  • Monitor for students who:
    • use their result for the month to get their result for the week
    • divide 219 by 52 to get the weekly result
    • make reasoned estimates

Student Facing

The average person produces 219 pounds of food waste per year.

  1. If each person produces the average amount, about how many pounds of food waste is produced by each group in each amount of time? Explain or show your reasoning.

    1. a person in 1 month
    2. a person in 1 week
    3. your family in 1 year
    4. your class in 1 year
    5. everyone in your school in 1 year
  2. There are 16 ounces in a pound. How many ounces of food waste does the average person produce in 1 year?

Student Response

For access, consult one of our IM Certified Partners.

Activity Synthesis

  • Invite students to share their strategies for determining how much food waste they produce per week.
  • “Were you surprised at the estimate of how much food waste everyone in your school produces in a year?”

Activity 2: Food Journal (20 minutes)

Narrative

The purpose of this activity is to introduce the food journal that students will use to track the food waste they or their families produce for a week. In this activity students practice filling out the journal and estimate the weight of what they throw out. To help students develop a sense for the weight of the food waste, consider bringing in a few common food items or images and display their weights in ounces. A few examples are provided below.

Banana: 4 ounces
Cucumber: 7 ounces
Chicken thigh: 2–3 ounces
Small lemon: 2–3 ounces
Carrot: 2 ounces
Medium apple: 6–7 ounces

Engagement: Develop Effort and Persistence. Invite students to generate a list of shared expectations for group work. Record responses on a display and keep visible during the activity.
Supports accessibility for: Organization, Attention

Launch

  • Groups of 2
  • “Think about one thing related to the food that you threw out today. Share with your partner. Why did you throw it out? How much do you think it weighed?”
  • 1 minute: partner discussion
  • Display food journal.
  • Record responses on the food journal.
  • “Try your best to think about all the food waste you produced today to complete the table.”

Activity

  • 5 minutes: individual work time
  • 5 minutes: partner work time
  • Monitor for students who:
    • divide the total number of ounces of food waste by 16 to determine the pounds of food waste
    • multiply appropriately to compare the estimated pounds of food waste from the previous activity

Student Facing

Complete the table for the food waste you produced today. Be prepared to share your reasoning for the estimated weight. 
name/type reason thrown away estimated weight (ounces)
  1. About how many pounds of food waste have you produced so far today?
  2. Look back at the weekly estimated pounds of food waste based on the national average in the last activity. Do you think the estimate is more or less than what you actually produce in a week? Explain your reasoning.

Student Response

For access, consult one of our IM Certified Partners.

Activity Synthesis

  • Invite a few students to share how they found the total pounds of food waste produced.
  • Give each student a food waste journal.
  • “For the next week, you will keep track of the food waste you produced. Record what you throw out, why you throw it out, and the estimated weight in ounces.”
  • “Scientists collect this kind of information for cities and countries all over the world. Why is this information helpful to them?” (to see why people are throwing things out and see how to reduce it, to see how much food waste is going to landfills, to learn what is in food waste and see how that affects the environment)

Activity 3: Analyze Food Journals [OPTIONAL] (20 minutes)

Narrative

The purpose of this activity is for students to analyze their completed food waste journals. Students begin the activity by sharing their food journal with a partner and discuss a few things they notice. Then they use the data from the journal and their experience with multiplying and dividing large numbers in this unit to estimate how much food waste they might produce in a month and in a year. They compare those results to the national average and discuss some possible reasons for the difference.

Launch

  • Groups of 2
  • “Share your food waste journal with a partner. As you look over your journals, what do you notice?”
  • “What is the same? What is different?”

Activity

  • 10 minutes: independent work time
  • 2 minutes: partner discussion

Student Facing

Use your food waste journal to answer the questions. Be prepared to share.

  1. How many pounds of food waste did you or your family produce in a week?
  2. If you produce about the same food waste each week as recorded in the food waste journal, how much would you produce in a month? In a year?
  3. The average person produces 219 pounds of food waste per year in the United States. With your partner, discuss reasons for the differences between your data and the national average.

Student Response

For access, consult one of our IM Certified Partners.

Activity Synthesis

  • See lesson synthesis

Lesson Synthesis

Lesson Synthesis

“This week, we collected information about the food waste we produce. We used that information to make estimates about how much food waste we might produce over a whole month or a whole year.”

Invite a few students to share how much food waste they will produce in a year and some reasons for any difference between their figure and the national average.

“As you looked over your food waste journal, what information surprised you?”

“What other questions can we explore about food waste?” (Where does it all go? How can we reduce food waste? Is there a difference in the amount of food waste produced by vegetarians and those that eat meat? Does eating out or eating at home produce more food waste?)