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. Students begin by exploring and defining key concepts and challenges from the 2040 documentary. They then work in groups in a class jigsaw activity to analyse one particular challenge and then share their conclusions with the class. Working in the same groups, students will then participate in a brainstorm activity to generate solutions to their challenge, again sharing these with the class. Students are provided with scaffolding to enhance their viewing and reflecting on the 2040 documentary film.

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 commencing from May 23. These lessons have been designed with a media library to support teachers. School screenings will be available once the film is released on video-on-demand and DVD later in 2019. Find out how to see the film and sign-up for updates here.

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.

21st century skills: 

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 5 English

  • Use interaction skills, for example paraphrasing, questioning and interpreting non-verbal cues and choose vocabulary and vocal effects appropriate for different audiences and purposes (ACELY1796)
  • Use comprehension strategies to analyse information, integrating and linking ideas from a variety of print and digital sources (ACELY1703)
  • Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive print and multimodal texts, choosing text structures, language features, images and sound appropriate to purpose and audience (ACELY1704).

Year 6 English

  • Participate in and contribute to discussions, clarifying and interrogating ideas, developing and supporting arguments, sharing and evaluating information, experiences and opinions (ACELY1709)
  • Use interaction skills, varying conventions of spoken interactions such as voice volume, tone, pitch and pace, according to group size, formality of interaction and needs and expertise of the audience (ACELY1816)
  • Use comprehension strategies to interpret and analyse information and ideas, comparing content from a variety of textual sources including media and digital texts (ACELY1713)
  • Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, choosing and experimenting with text structures, language features, images and digital resources appropriate to purpose and audience (ACELY1714).

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).

Years 5 & 6 Media Arts:

  • Explore representations, characterisations and points of view of people in their community, including themselves, using settings, ideas, story principles and genre conventions in images, sounds and text (ACAMAM062)
  • Explain how the elements of media arts and story principles communicate meaning by comparing media artworks from different social, cultural and historical contexts, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media artworks (ACAMAR065).

Syllabus outcomes: EN3-1A, EN3-2A, EN3-3A, ST3-14BE, ST3-15I, ST3-16P

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.2, OI.6, OI.7, OI.8, OI.9.

Relevant parts of Year 5 English achievement standards: Students create imaginative, informative and persuasive texts for different purposes and audiences. They contribute actively to class and group discussions, taking into account other perspectives. 

Relevant parts of Year 6 English achievement standards: Students create detailed texts elaborating on key ideas for a range of purposes and audiences. They contribute actively to class and group discussions, using a variety of strategies for effect. 

Relevant parts of Year 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 5 & 6 Media Arts achievement standards: Students explain how points of view, ideas and stories are shaped and portrayed in media artworks they make, share and view. They explain the purposes and audiences for media artworks made in different cultures, times and places.

Topic: Sustainability.

Unit of work: 2040 – Watching the Film – Years 5–10

Time required: 162 mins (includes time to view the film)

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate class discussion, lead students in activities.

Resources required: Student Worksheets – one copy per student. A device capable of presenting a video to the class. Butcher’s paper, marker pens. Critically Viewing a Documentary Film Factsheet.

Keywords: 2040 documentary, future, energy, transport, food production.

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 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…

  • …undertake research online.
  • …participate in group discussion.
  • …participate in group brainstorming activities.
  • …watch and reflect on a documentary film.

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" (source). The report indicates that young people have a serious mistrust in the Government's a

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: What might you be doing in 2040?

Defining key terms

Add your key terms and definitions in your own words below. Also make a record of your sources for each definition.

Term Definition in your own words Sources


After watching 2040, organise your thoughts and responses to the film by completing the 'Think, Puzzle, Explore' questions below:

1. What do you THINK you know about the film/topic?

2. What PUZZLES you about the film/topic?

3. What aspects of the film/topic would you like to EXPLORE?

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