Activity Introduction


In this lesson, students will be immersed in and connect with the documentary film 2040. Students begin by clarifying the key terms used in the 2040 documentary. They then work in groups to investigate some of the challenges for our future as identified in the documentary (including energy, transport, and food production).


Students undertake research into their assigned challenge and then share their findings with the class. They then work in groups to brainstorm solutions to their challenge. Finally, students are invited to watch and reflect on the 2040 documentary film.


Learning Intentions

  • Students will understand some of the key concepts and messages of the 2040 documentary film.
  • Students will understand how a documentary film can engage, inform and inspire.
  • Students will understand that solutions to global environmental and social challenges already exist.

Lesson & Curriculum Details

  • Topic: Sustainability.
  • Unit of work: 2040 – Watching the Film – Years 5–10
  • Time required: 152 mins.
  • Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate class discussion.
  • Keywords: 2040 documentary, future, energy, transport, food production.

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 some of the key concepts and messages of the 2040 documentary film.
  • ...understand how a documentary film can engage, inform and inspire.
  • ...understand that solutions to global environmental and social challenges already exist.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • collaboratively.
  • …undertake research online.
  • …participate in group discussion.
  • …participate in a group brainwriting activity.
  • …watch and reflect on a documentary film.

Teacher content information: A recent 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" (source). The report indicates that young people have a serious mi

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: What concerns you most about the future and why?

Interviewing For Definitions

You now need to interview two or three people in your class and record their definitions for the following terms in the table below:

Term Interview 1 Interview 2 Interview 3
Climate change      
Greenhouse gases      
Carbon dioxide      
Carbon sequestration      

Be prepared to share your responses with the class.


After watching the 2040 film, use the following questions to help you reflect on the film:

1. What did you SEE in this film? What happened in this film?



2. What does this film make you THINK about?


3. How does this film make you FEEL?


4. What does this film make you WONDER? What questions do you still have?

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