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 actions they can take that has positive benefits both now and in the future. Students begin by looking at examples of young people who have taken action for the future through social and environmental projects. They then work as a class or in groups to choose a topic they are concerned about, and design, plan and implement a project to get the community involved in taking action on the topic. The social action created can be used to engage another class, the whole school or the wider community, if you choose. Following project completion, students will celebrate and reflect on the success of their project and their participation in the project.

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. 

This lesson can be used as a stand-alone lesson or can be used to consolidate and extend learning if you have completed any of the other lessons in this unit.

Learning intentions:

  • Students will understand that they have a role to play in creating the future they want to see.
  • Students will understand and be able to drive the processes required for planning and executing an action-based project.

21st century skills:

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 5 English

  • Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations for defined audiences and purposes incorporating accurate and sequenced content and multimodal elements (ACELY1700)
  • 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

  • Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations, selecting and sequencing appropriate content and multimodal elements for defined audiences and purposes, making appropriate choices for modality and emphasis (ACELY1710)
  • 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)
  • Participate in and contribute to discussions, clarifying and interrogating ideas, developing and supporting arguments, sharing and evaluating information, experiences and opinions (ACELY1709)

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)
  • Generate, develop and communicate design ideas and processes for audiences using appropriate technical terms and graphical representation techniques (ACTDEP025)

Syllabus outcomes: EN3-1A, EN3-2A, ST3-14BE, ST3-15I, ST3-16P, ST3-5WT

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking

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

Relevant parts of Years 5 English achievement standards: Students create imaginative, informative and persuasive texts for different purposes and audiences, and make presentations which include multimodal elements for defined purposes. Students contribute actively to class and group discussions.

Relevant parts of Years 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 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. Students generate and record design ideas for specified audiences using appropriate technical terms, and graphical and non-graphical representation techniques.

Topic: Sustainability, Energy, Consumption.

Unit of work: 2040 – Integrated Unit – Years 5 & 6.

Time required: 210+ mins. (this time allows students to plan and conduct their social action project)

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. S.M.A.R.T. Goals FactsheetProject Planning ToolProject RolesProject Checklist. Butcher’s paper and various coloured sticky notes. Sustainability Factsheet – Optional.

Keywords: 2040, documentary, transport, energy, food, sustainability, future, social action.

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 they have a role to play in creating the future they want to see
  • ...understand and be able to drive the processes required for planning and executing a social action project

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ...use their skills and interests to engage their community in conversations and actions for change
  • ...identify an action they want to take for a better future
  • ...follow the processes and steps required for planning and executing a social action project
  • ...participate in group and class discussion
  • collaboratively and independently

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 con

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: What is your 2040?

Taking action for 2040

In this part of the lesson, you will be working in groups to plan and implement an action, based around your 'How might we...?' question. Write your final 'How might we...?' question below:

How might we...

After working on some ideas for action, use the S.M.A.R.T goals criteria to help you choose one.

What action would you like to take in response to your 'How might we...?' question. Record how you and your group will address the question in the space below:

Project Planning

Use the Project Planning Tool to plan your social action.

Execute The Project

Use the Project Checklist to help keep track of what you need to do to deliver your project.


Work independently to think about your project and answer the following questions:

Project reflection

• Give a short overview of the action your group took. 




• Was our project a success? Why or why not?




• What parts were the most successful a

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