Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this social action lesson, students will become ocean guardians by designing their own solutions to reducing throw away plastic. Students will explore how waste plastic links to the current plight of the Shearwater in the video from Blue The Film. Students will uncover the main types of plastic found in the school environment, then brainstorm, create and pitch solutions to school leaders on ways to reduce plastic waste. They will describe how this action protects the Shearwater population.

blue-white-logo-120pxBlue is a feature documentary film charting the drastic decline in the health of our oceans. With more than half of all marine life lost and the expansion of the industrialization of the seas, the film sets out the challenges we are facing and the opportunities for positive change. Blue changes the way we think about our liquid world and inspires the audience to action. Find out how to screen or download the film here. Along with the film is an ambitious global campaign to create advocacy and behaviour change through the #oceanguardian movement. To become an ocean guardian, see the website.

Learning intention: 

  • Students will understand the impact our plastic use has on Shearwaters and how to take action to reduce plastic waste.

21st century skills:


Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 3 & 4 HASS Inquiry and skills

  • Pose questions to investigate people, events, places and issues (ACHASSI052, ACHASSI073)
  • Locate and collect information and data from different sources, including observations (ACHASSI053, ACHASSI074)
  • Interact with others with respect to share points of view (ACHASSI059, ACHASSI080)
  • Reflect on learning to propose actions in response to an issue or challenge and consider possible effects of proposed actions (ACHASSI060, ACHASSI081)
  • Present ideas, findings and conclusions in texts and modes that incorporate digital and non-digital representations and discipline specific terms (ACHASSI061, ACHASSI082)

Year 3 Science

  • Science knowledge helps people to understand the effect of their actions (ACSHE051)

Year 4 Science 

  • Science knowledge helps people to understand the effect of their actions (ACSHE062)

Year 3 English

  • Identify the audience and purpose of imaginative, informative and persuasive texts (ACELY1678)

Year 4 English

  • Identify characteristic features used in imaginative, informative and persuasive texts to meet the purpose of the text (ACELY1690)

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.4, OI.5, OI.7, OI.9.

Relevant parts of Year 3 achievement standards:

  • HASS Year 3: Students pose questions and locate and collect information from sources, including observations, to answer these questions. They examine information to identify a point of view and interpret data to identify and describe simple distributions. Students draw simple conclusions and share their views on an issue. They reflect on their learning to suggest individual action in response to an issue or challenge. Students communicate their ideas, findings and conclusions in oral, visual and written forms using simple discipline-specific terms.
  • English Year 3: They understand how language can be used to express feelings and opinions on topics.
  • HASS Year 4: Students recognise the significance of events in bringing about change and the importance of the environment. They identify the interconnections between components of the environment and between people and the environment.Students locate and collect information and data from different sources, including observations, to answer these questions. They share their points of view, respecting the views of others. Students reflect on their learning to propose action in response to an issue or challenge, and identify the possible effects of their proposed action. They present ideas, findings and conclusions using discipline-specific terms in a range of communication forms.
  • English Year 4: Students create structured texts to explain ideas for different audiences.

Topic: Blue The Film, Ocean Conservation.

Unit of work: BLUE The Film: Inquiry – Years 3 & 4

Time required: 3.5+ hours

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – lead students in discussion and class activities, oversee group work.

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one copy per student. Device capable of presenting a website and video to the class. Student computers. A3 paper and textas. Lesson presentation, Environmental Scan table, Survey of Plastic Use. Materials for student prototyping, such as paper, cardboard, ice-cream sticks, pipe-cleaners, Blu-tack, sticky-tape, pens, textas, paper clips, staplers, scissors, sticky-notes, string, rubber bands. 

Digital technology opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities.

Keywords: Blue The Film, ocean conservation, throw away plastic.

Cool Australia and Northern Pictures would like to acknowledge the generous contributions of GoodPitch² AustraliaShark Island InstituteDocumentary Australia FoundationThe Caledonia Foundation and Screen Australia in the development of these teaching resources.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.

© 2017 Northern Pictures and Cool Australia


Teacher Worksheet

blue_coral-reef_lotr_0080_photoframeTeacher preparation

Learning intentions: Students understand the impact our plastic use has on Shearwaters and how to take action to reduce plastic waste.

Success criteria: Students will...

  • Be aware of how plastic use can affect ocean life
  • Be able to identify ways to reduce plastic
  • Be able to present an idea for action


Teacher content information: From space, our planet appears as a tiny blue dot in the vastness of the universe. No matter where you live on our blue planet – you’re connected to the sea.

But the seas are under threat. The industrialisation that has occurred in the oceans over the last century mirrors the events that triggered mass extinctions on land. Industrial scale fishing, habitat destruction, species loss and pollution have placed the ocean in peril. The very nature of the sea is being irretrievably altered.

By international standards, Australia is a marine conservation leader. It has the world’s largest coral reef, the best managed fisheries and po

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: ‘Birds are indicators of the environment. If they are in trouble, we know we'll soon be in trouble’
- Roger Tory Peterson

Part A: Identifying the Issue

You are going to become an ocean guardian. Ocean guardians care for the ocean and the ocean’s living things by taking action to improve the health of the ocean. Start by completing the following sentence:

I would like to help the Shearwaters because... 

After forming a group, write down five team agreements:


Refer back to your team agreements at any time when you're experiencing challenges.

Part B: Ideas for Change

Summarise your group's idea by answering these questions:

•   What is your idea? 



•   What will you be asking people to do? 

•   How will it help the Shearwaters? 

Part C: Design for Change

1. Your prototype will be a plan or model that shows how your idea reduces the use of throw away plastic in the school. Create your prototype demonstration or storyboard using these guiding qu

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