The Class Tear-Down: An e-waste lesson for students to lEarn design for disassembly, recycling and repair


With the average Australian household throwing away enough rubbish to fill a three-storey house each year, it'd be fair to say that something isn't quite right when it comes to waste education and systems! In bringing awareness and education around this global problem, fix-ed aims to prepare our future leaders with knowledge and tools to better tackle this problem. This e-waste lesson, based on resources from the Ellen Macarthur foundation, creates an understanding of various factors surrounding the issue and provides knowledge about how we can design more responsibly.


Resources required:

A variety of E-Waste for students to tear-down.

The Ellen Macarthur Resource Sheets -> 1, 23 & 4.

A selection of tools, such as screwdrivers, pliers to pull products apart.

The selection of videos below can be used to support each lesson and provide further discussion.


Recommended time:

3 (1.25h) lessons.

A4 Guide.


We began by watching Thomas Thwaites 'How I Built A Toaster' video and broke down the typical resources to make products.

Students then chose groups to begin the teardown and were assigned a variety of objects such as a remote control car, telephones, a DVD player and modem.

As students began disassembling their objects, they documented all the different parts involved, separated them into different materials (and weight) and classified whether they were recyclable or destined for landfill. There were some very interesting findings in class, with the majority of groups surprised by the amount of components and materials involved.


After disassembly and documentation, students are then able to re-design the objects, considering ways to design them as part of a circular economy. They are encouraged to think about the materials, fixtures and broader system in which the products operate. The following resources are useful to help guide the students.

Students engaged highly with the e-waste tear-down. Good luck and if you run this class with your students, let us know!

Tom Allen