Students sorting through a bag of trash

Project-Based Science

Grades 3–4
Paradise Valley Engineering Academy
Morgan Hill, CA

Major Objectives

  • Raise awareness and reduce food waste on campus


Students at Paradise Valley Engineering Academy organized an awareness campaign to reduce food waste on campus. It started when students collecting litter data during lunch periods began observing their peers throwing away unopened food and drinks. Finding this disturbing, they decided to compare the amount of trash generated to how much food was wasted. For three days, students sorted the lunchtime trash and recorded how much food was wasted, then shared the data with the school on a large whiteboard that was displayed outside. Using the collected data, students created classroom presentations to discuss the problem and possible solutions with their schoolmates. After the information campaign, they collected data again and found that food waste decreased by 28 percent during upper-grade lunch.

Notes from the Field

"Teachers and parents were shocked by how much food, especially unopened food, is wasted on a daily basis."