Activity Introduction

Quick summary: 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 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?”

2040 is only available in cinemas until later in 2019. You can make a group booking for your class at your local cinema during the film’s theatrical release. Find out how to see the film in cinemas hereThese lessons have been designed with a media library to support teachers. The Schools Version of the 2040 DVD is now also available for pre-order! School-based screenings can commence from September 1st – pre-order now to ensure that the DVD is delivered to you before the end of August. The Schools Version includes an educational license, allowing you to play it in class as a learning tool or even host on-site screenings for your school community. 

To expand on and further embed student learning in this activity, consider following up with Taking Action For Your 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.

21st century skills:

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 5 Science

  • Communicate ideas, explanations and processes using scientific representations in a variety of ways, including multi-modal texts (ACSIS093)

Year 6 Science

  • Electrical energy can be transferred and transformed in electrical circuits and can be generated from a range of sources (ACSSU097)
  • Scientific knowledge is used to solve problems and inform personal and community decisions (ACSHE100)
  • Communicate ideas, explanations and processes using scientific representations in a variety of ways, including multi-modal texts (ACSIS110)

Years 5 & 6 Design and Technologies

  • Examine how people in design and technologies occupations address competing considerations, including sustainability in the design of products, services, and environments for current and future use (ACTDEK019)

Year 6 Economics and Business

  • How the concept of opportunity cost involves choices about the alternative use of resources and the need to consider trade-offs (ACHASSK149)

Syllabus outcomes: ST3-4WS, ST3-6PW, ST3-7PW, ST3-14BE, ST3-15I, ST3-16P

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.6., OI.8

Relevant parts of Year 5 Science achievement standards: Students communicate their ideas and findings using multimodal texts.

Relevant parts of Year 6 Science achievement standards: Students analyse requirements for the transfer of electricity and describe how energy can be transformed from one form to another when generating electricity. They explain how scientific knowledge helps us to solve problems and inform decisions. Students construct multimodal texts to communicate ideas.

Relevant parts of Years 5 & 6 Design and Technologies achievement standards: Students explain how social, ethical, technical and sustainability considerations influence the design of solutions to meet a range of present and future needs.

Relevant parts of Year 6 Economics and Business achievement standards: Students recognise why choices about the allocation of resources involve trade-offs.

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.

Resources required: Student Worksheets – one copy per student. Device capable of presenting a video to the class. One copy of each of the following (one per group): Coal Factsheet, Solar Factsheet, Wind Power Factsheet, Hydropower Factsheet, Geothermal Factsheet, Uranium FactsheetSustainability Factsheet – Optional.

Keywords: 2040 documentary, energy, electricity, renewable, non-renewable.

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 Australia, Shark Island Institute, Documentary Australia Foundation, The 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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