Activity Introduction


In this lesson, students will be immersed in, and connect with, the documentary film 2040, focusing on the topic of renewable energy. Students begin by exploring what we mean by renewable and non-renewable resources, and investigate a range of resources, classifying them as either renewable or non-renewable based on their regeneration rates.


Students then look at renewable energy and then generate questions that they have about renewable energy that can be answered through research. These questions are then distributed amongst students who conduct the research required to answer them and share their results with the class. Finally, students explore how understanding the benefits of renewable energy can improve and empower communities by looking at and comparing a range of community energy projects.


Learning Intentions

  • Students will understand what renewable and non-renewable means in terms of resources
  • Students will recognise a range of renewable energy sources
  • Students will understand how people can use scientific knowledge around energy to improve and empower communities through community energy programs.

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

  • Student Worksheets – one copy per student.
  • Device capable of presenting a video to the class.
  • Energy Answers Sheet – Optional

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 renewable and non-renewable means in terms of resources
  • ... recognise a range of renewable energy sources
  • ... understand how people can use scientific knowledge around energy to improve and empower communities through community energy programs

Success criteria: Students can …

  • ... work independently and collaboratively
  • ... participate in group discussion
  • ... generate scientifically relevant questions
  • ... conduct and share research

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 se

- or - to view worksheets

Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: How can we look after energy resources for the future?

Renewable and Non-Renewable Resources

You will now work in your pairs to order the following resources according to their regeneration rates. You can do this by adding a number from 1 to 5 (with 1 being the fastest) next to each resource. You should also decide whether each of these resources is renewable or non-renewable and why.

Resource Regeneration Rate (number from 1 to 5, with 1 being the fastest) Do you think this is a renewable or non-renewable resource? Explain your answer:

Renewable Energy

1. Look at this image of different types of renewable energy. Can you identify them? What do you already know about these energy types?

2. Working in pairs you now need to generate questions based on the following statement:

  • What I DON’T know about renewable energy.

Each pair of students needs to generate at least fiv

- or - to view worksheets

Leave your Feedback

We appreciate your feedback. Let us know what you like or don't like about this activity:

Sorry. You must be logged in to view this form.