Activity Introduction


In this lesson, students will be immersed in, and connect with, the documentary film 2040, focusing on the topic of sustainability and renewable energy. Students begin by exploring the concept of sustainability and work as a class to create a definition of sustainability. They then look at sustainable energy and work in groups to investigate different types of renewable energy and energy efficiency practices (year 8).


Students create a presentation to share with the class. They then create a scientific poster to explain which type of renewable energy or which energy efficiency practices (year 8) would be best suited to their area.


Learning Intentions

  • Students will understand what sustainability is and how it relates to energy
  • Students will recognise the key features of renewable energy and the different types of sustainable energy that currently exist
  • Students will understand different energy efficiency practices and why we might use these (year 8)

Lesson & Curriculum Details

  • Topic: Sustainability, Energy.
  • Unit of work: 2040 – Science – Years 7 to 10
  • Time required: 100+ mins.
  • Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – oversee activities and facilitate class discussions.
  • Keywords: 2040 documentary, energy, electricity, sustainability, renewable energy.

To view our Australian Curriculum alignment click here.

To view our NZ Curriculum alignment click here.

Resources Required

Accessing the Film

2040 is an innovative feature documentary that looks to the future, but is vitally important NOW!  Director Damon Gameau embarks on a journey to explore what the future could look like by the year 2040 if we simply embraced the best solutions already available to us to improve our planet and shifted them rapidly into the mainstream. 

In Australia: Order the Schools Version of the 2040 DVD. The Schools Version includes an educational license and is for Australian primary and secondary schools that wish to utilise the film as a learning tool or host free on-site screenings for the school community.

In New Zealand: Find out how to see the film here. 2040 is currently only available in NZ cinemas and you can make a group booking for your class at your local cinema. The Schools Version of the DVD and BluRay will be released in New Zealand on 7th November 2019. This version includes an educational licence that covers classroom use and on-site screenings for the school community. To pre-order a copy for your school, please email: [email protected].


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

Cool Australia, GoodThing Productions and Regen Pictures would like to acknowledge the generous contributions of Good Pitch AustraliaShark Island InstituteDocumentary Australia FoundationThe Caledonia Foundation and our philanthropic partners in the development of these teaching resources.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation

Learning intentions: Students will ...

  • ... understand what sustainability is and how it relates to energy
  • ... recognise the key features of renewable energy and the different types of renewable energy that currently exist
  • ... understand different energy efficiency practices and why we might use these (year 8)

Success criteria: Students can …

  • ... create a presentation
  • ... create a scientific poster
  • ... conduct research
  • ... work collaboratively
  • ... participate in group and class discussions

Teacher content information: A 2018 study by The University of Melbourne on the thoughts and concerns of young people from Generations X and Y found the number one concern across both groups was lack of action around climate change. In particular, "Generation X worries what climate change will mean for their own children, while Generation Y is concerned about the impact on future generations" (The Educator). The report indicates that young people have a

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: What does a sustainable energy future look like?

Defining Sustainability

1. Work independently to think about and record your responses to the following question:

What does sustainability mean to me?

2. Now work collaboratively to come up with a definition of sustainability. You could start your definition with:

Sustainability is...


Lesson tip

Be prepared to share your definition or keywords with the class.

Energy and Sustainability

Year 7

Work in your groups to research the answers to the following questions about the type of energy your teacher has assigned you. Record your notes below:

What type of energy has our group been assigned?

How does this type of energy work? What resource does it use?

Is this a renewable resource? Why or why not?

Is this a clean source of energy? Why or why not?

Does this source of energy have any environmental impacts? If so, what are they and what could be done to address these impacts?

Where is this type of ener

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