How Can We Understand Waste and Emissions in Our School's Food System?

This lesson outlines for students how to design and carry out an investigation to audit their school’s food waste system.

Context for Use

This is the third lesson in the Climate Resiliency Education Design Challenge Unit. These design challenges are meant to follow the middle or high school Climate Resiliency Education units and to have students come up with real world solutions.

A grocer checks milk on a shelf at a grocery store.

Goals Header
What Students Will Do

Students will learn how to design and carry out an investigation to audit our school’s food waste system


  1. (5 minutes) Consensus Building Discussion: Reorient the students to the storyline.
  2. (15 minutes) Notice and Wonderings: Explore the graphs and background information about food waste and carbon footprint.
  3. (15 minutes) Sharing Initial Ideas Discussion: Generate ideas about how to assess the situation at school.  
  4. (1 hour) Plan: Groups design a plan for their chosen aspect of the investigation. 
  5. (2-3 days) Design Challenge: Follow the plan to collect and analyze data, as well as create visual representations of results.   


Illustration of two people high-fiving in a work environment

Get involved and stay up-to-date with CIRES CEEE.