Climate change: our future, our choice - Teacher Notes

Suggested activities and information for teachers exploring the topic Climate Change with their students.

Useful references and websites for teachers

Activities for primary and secondary students

1. View YouTube footage of climate change explanations or show the film An Inconvenient Truth or The Age of Stupid.

2. Brainstorm climate and geo-political predictions for the planet in 2020, 2050, 2070 and 2100.

3. Write a newspaper headline, poem or personal account of a global event in 2020.

4. Using the 'jigsaw' strategy (see below) form 'home' groups and allocate a person in each home group to be an 'expert' in one area. Each expert is assigned to investigate one of the five questions below. Group the experts together into expert groups.

Ask each 'expert' group to investigate one of the following questions:

a. Will your adult life be different from your parents'? In what way?
b. How will people travel around cities in 2020, 2050?
c. How will our homes be powered in 2020, 2050?
d. What new jobs will be available in 2020, 2050?
e. What animals will be endangered in 2020? http://www.arkive.org/

Regroup students in to their home groups and discuss thoughts about life in 2020 or 2050.

The jigsaw strategy is a way of organising students so that the whole class can conduct an in-depth study of a topic in a short time. Topics are analysed and broken down into discrete research tasks. These tasks form the pieces of an information 'jigsaw'. A group of students is allocated one of the jigsaw tasks to investigate. Each 'expert' jigsaw group then reports the results to the home group, thus building up a detailed picture of the topic.

Choose an issue, topic or question e.g. extreme weather events, Australia's carbon footprint, alternative energy, the effect of ocean acidification on the Great Barrier Reef, drought, species extinctions, that could be looked at in greater depth at the Climate Change exhibition. Place students with similar investigations into expert groups.

5. Use one of the of the following topics to have class debate:

  • There will be more winners than losers as global temperatures rise.
  • The Arctic summer ice melt is a tipping point for planet Earth.
  • Fish won't be on the menu in 2050.
  • Our children's children will benefit from our actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions now.
  • Eating your own homegrown food is the best way to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Government policy can change the future of the planet.
  • The countries that have grown rich from using fossil fuels should be responsible for the countries that now suffer from global warming.
  • A global carbon account is the fairest way to distribute the burden of addressing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Hemp is a more sustainable crop for Australia than cotton.
  • Our greenhouse gas emissions would drop if we all ate kangaroo instead of beef.

6. Ask an Australian Museum scientist, via the website, to explain how his/her research relates to climate change.

7. Carry out a school or home energy usage audit. 

8. Set up an environment club. Suggest changes for the classroom, canteen, playground, home, school travel, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

9. Create your own news from a future time. Put it on the Australian Museum's website.

10. Interview your local councillor/state member or federal member on parliament's action to reduce carbon emissions.

11. Take part in International Buy Nothing day.

12. Make a study of biodiversity in your schoolyard over the year. See Bugwise

13. Design a carbon-neutral vehicle for a family.

14. Prepare a tourist brochure for carbon-neutral holidays in Australia.

15. Hold a parliament and prepare legislation to reduce Australia's carbon emissions.

16. You are the chair of the World's First United Nations Carbon Rationing Bank. Every major country is party to your initial target setting. Have each student represent a country and draw up a carbon rationing program (including caps) and a sustainability charter.

17. Create a menu for food from a sustainable garden.

18. Create a Christmas brochure or catalogue of children's toys in the year 2050.

19. Look at the world's hot spots and write a newspaper article from the point-of-view of an on-the-spot reporter. Useful reference: http://climate.jpl.nasa.gov/keyIndicators/

20. Explain (via powerpoint or a model) the water cycle, carbon cycle or greenhouse effect to another student/parent/CEO of BHP.

21. Blog on to a global climate change site.

22. Provide 12 images for a monthly calendar for the year 2050. Draw up the calendar and add the special days of celebration.


Sue Lewis
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Tags Teacher notes, climate change, biodiversity, global warming, lesson ideas, education, Environment matters, adaptations, our future our choice, teachers resources, student activities, environmental science, Stage 3, Stage 4 science, information on climate change,