Activity Introduction


In this lesson, students will be immersed in, and connect with, the documentary film 2040, focusing on the topic of energy. Students begin by clarifying key terms around energy before participating in a group jigsaw activity to investigate different types of energy. They then explore a case study about local energy production from the documentary before creating a scientific poster to communicate their own ideas for local energy.


Finally, students reflect on their learning by considering the question; “What is your energy 2040?”


Learning Intentions

  • Students understand that there are different types of energy sources.
  • Students understand that different types of energy have different environmental impacts.
  • Students understand that solutions to the environmental problems associated with energy production already exist.

Lesson & Curriculum Details

  • Topic: Sustainability, Energy.
  • Unit of work: 2040 – Integrated Unit – Years 5 & 6.
  • Time required: 120 mins.
  • Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – oversee activities and facilitate class discussions.
  • Keywords: 2040 documentary, energy, electricity, renewable, non-renewable.

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 that there are different types of energy sources
  • ...understand that different types of energy have different environmental impacts
  • ...understand that solutions to the environmental problems associated with energy production already exist

Success criteria: Students can…

  • collaboratively and independently
  • ...contribute to group discussions
  • ...create a scientific poster
  • ...undertake research
  • ...think critically and creatively about current environmental issues

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 indicat

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: How do you use energy?

Defining Key Terms

1. Work with a partner to create your own definitions for the following terms. Don't worry if you're unsure what the terms mean; just have a go.

• Energy




• Electricity




• Renewable energy




• Non-renewable energy




• Fossil fuels




• Solar power




• Pollution




• Climate change




• Sustainability




• Other new vocabulary



2. Again working in your pairs, discuss and record your answers to the following questions:

• What do you think might be the problem with using fossil fuels to create electricity? How might using fossil fuels for creating electricity harm our environment?



Different Types of Energy – Jigsaw Activity

1. Work in your groups to read both the Introduction and your section of the Energy Factsheet. You should then discuss and record your answers to the following questions. Each student will need to record their own answers on

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