Activity Introduction

deforestationQuick summary: Students investigate the sustainability of conventional palm oil production. They begin by watching a clip about palm oil consumption and participate in a guided discussion about this clip. Students will then review their understanding of sustainability and participate in a group activity applying factors and impacts associated with palm oil to the concept of sustainability using a Venn diagram. Finally students are asked to reflect on their own choices about the consumption of products containing palm oil. Note: Students require understanding of the core elements and factors of sustainability. If required, this lesson can be used to familiarise students with this concept: Defining Sustainability.

WWF-Logo-small1This lesson has been developed in partnership with WWF-Australia. WWF has been working to promote the transition away from conventional palm oil production to Certified Sustainable Palm Oil that conserves forests, protects species, and secures livelihoods.



Essential questions:

  • What are the key issues relating to palm oil consumption and production?
  • What is the relationship between palm oil and the environment?
  • What is sustainability and what is the relationship between palm oil consumption and sustainability?
  • What is my role as a consumer of palm oil and why do I have to make choices about buying products containing palm oil?
  • Why are there trade-offs associated with making decisions about consuming palm oil?
  • How can I use my consumer power to affect positive change with regards to palm oil?
  • How can I use the Internet to help me find out more about palm oil production and consumption?

21st Century skills:

dig deeper skills 1

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 5 HASS

  • Types of resources (natural, human, capital) and the ways societies use them to satisfy the needs and wants of present and future generations (ACHASSK120)
  • Influences on consumer choices and methods that can be used to help make informed personal consumer and financial choices (ACHASSK121)
  • Locate and collect relevant information and data from primary and secondary sources (ACHASSI095)
  • Organise and represent data in a range of formats including tables, graphs and large- and small-scale maps, using discipline-appropriate conventions (ACHASSI096)

Year 6 HASS

  • The effect that consumer and financial decisions can have on the individual, the broader community and the environment (ACHASSK150)
  • How the concept of opportunity cost involves choices about the alternative use of resources and the need to consider trade-offs (ACHASSK149)
  • Locate and collect relevant information and data from primary and secondary sources (ACHASSI123)
  • Organise and represent data in a range of formats including tables, graphs and large- and small-scale maps, using discipline-appropriate conventions (ACHASSI124)

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Intercultural Understanding.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.3, OI.5, OI.6, OI.7.

Relevant part of the Year 5 HASS achievement standards:

Students identify and describe the interconnections between people and the human and environmental characteristics of places, and understand the effects of these interconnections on the characteristics of places and environments. They locate and collect data and information from a range of sources to answer inquiry questions.

Relevant part of the Year 6 HASS achievement standards:

Students recognise why choices about the allocation of resources involve trade-offs and explain why it is important to be informed when making consumer and financial decisions. They locate and collect useful data and information from primary and secondary sources.

Topic: Sustainable Palm Oil, Consumption.

Unit of lessons: Sustainable Palm Oil.

Time required: 60+ mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding:

Resources required: Butcher’s paper, pens, glue, scissors, printed copies of the Influencing Factors Cut Out. Student Worksheet – one copy per student OR computers/tablets to access the online worksheet. Device capable of presenting a website to the class. Palm oil factsheet.

Digital technology opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities.

Keywords: Palm oil, consumption, Venn diagram.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

orangutanTeacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students will understand the social, economic and environmental impacts of conventional palm oil production. Students will investigate the sustainability of conventional palm oil production, and begin to make assessments about how it could become more sustainable.

Teacher content information: Palm oil is an edible oil that comes from the fruit of oil palm trees (Elaeis guineensis). It is a highly versatile oil, used as an ingredient in many foods, cosmetics and cleaning products that you find in your supermarket.

Palm oil production and consumption continues to grow: globally we now use over 50 million tonnes per year and this figure is expected to grow by another 50% by 2050. This growing global demand for palm oil has driven development of vast plantations in key growing countries in South East Asia, as well as in emerging areas of production, such as West Africa and Latin America.

While the communities and countries growing palm oil

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: What is the problem with palm oil?

At the checkout - video reflection

Write down two things you found interesting or surprising in this video:

1. 2.


Additional questions for Year 6 students:



1. What is the role of the consumer in dealing with the impacts of palm oil production?

2. Give an example of a trade-off presented in this video.

Remembering sustainability - THINK PAIR SHARE

THINK - Answer the following questions:

1. What are the three elements of sustainability?

2. What is your own definition of sustainability?

PAIR AND SHARE - Once you have answered these questions, turn to a classmate and share your answers.

  • Are your answers similar?
  • How different are your definitions?
  • Why do you think this is?

You may amend your answers once you have finished your discussion.

Peel back the layers - Venn diagram activity

Working in groups, take the piece of butcher's paper provided

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