Activity Introduction

Subjects: Science.

Year Levels: Year 8, Year 9 & Year 10.

Topics: Climate change. Click here for more lessons on these topics.

Teaching Time: 60 minutes.

Quick summary: Students consider the benefits and challenges associated with reducing carbon emissions through carbon capture technologies. They design a solution that captures and safely stores carbon emissions from the atmosphere.


Cool would like to thank the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and The Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation for generously supporting the development of these lessons.


21st-century skills: 

Creative ThinkingCritical ThinkingDigital LiteracyEntrepreneurshipGlobal CitizenshipProblem FindingProblem Solving  

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Year 8

Content descriptions: Year 8 Science:

  • Differences between elements, compounds and mixtures can be described at a particle level (ACSSU152)
  • Solutions to contemporary issues that are found using science and technology, may impact on other areas of society and may involve ethical considerations (ACSHE135)

Relevant parts of the Year 8 English achievement standards: Students compare physical and chemical changes and use the particle model to explain and predict the properties and behaviours of substances. They explain how evidence has led to an improved understanding of a scientific idea and describe situations in which scientists collaborated to generate solutions to contemporary problems. They reflect on implications of these solutions for different groups in society.

Year 9

Content descriptions: Year 9 Science:

  • All matter is made of atoms that are composed of protons, neutrons and electrons; natural radioactivity arises from the decay of nuclei in atoms (ACSSU177)
  • Chemical reactions involve rearranging atoms to form new substances; during a chemical reaction mass is not created or destroyed (ACSSU178)
  • Values and needs of contemporary society can influence the focus of scientific research (ACSHE228)

Relevant parts of Year 9 Science achievement standards: Students explain chemical processes and natural radioactivity in terms of atoms and energy transfers and describe examples of important chemical reactions. They analyse how biological systems function and respond to external changes with reference to interdependencies, energy transfers and flows of matter. They describe social and technological factors that have influenced scientific developments and predict how future applications of science and technology may affect people’s lives.

Year 10

Content descriptions: Year 10 Science:

  • The atomic structure and properties of elements are used to organise them in the Periodic Table (ACSSU186)
  • Different types of chemical reactions are used to produce a range of products and can occur at different rates (ACSSU187)
  • Global systems, including the carbon cycle, rely on interactions involving the biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere (ACSSU189)
  • Values and needs of contemporary society can influence the focus of scientific research (ACSHE230)

Relevant parts of Year 10 Science achievement standards: Students explain how chemical reactions are used to produce particular products and how different factors influence the rate of reactions. Students analyse how the models and theories they use have developed over time and discuss the factors that prompted their review.

Syllabus outcomes: SC4-16CW, SC5-16CW, SC5-11PW, SC5-12ES

General capabilities: Literacy, Critical and Creative Thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability.

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work IPCC Climate Change Solutions.

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – Discuss the IPCC report with students, lead students through explicit teaching about the carbon cycle and cellular respiration, and support them in independent work.

Resources required:

  • A device capable of presenting a video to the class
  • Individual devices capable of accessing the internet – one per student (optional)
  • Presentation Slides
  • Student Worksheet – one per student.

Related Professional Development: If you’re interested in learning more about how to approach challenging topics around climate change and sustainability in your classroom through a Hope and Optimism lens, consider our PD course.

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


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ... demonstrate ways in which net-zero carbon emissions (and beyond) can be reached by 2050.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • … design a solution for recovering CO2 from Earth's atmosphere and processing the recovered material by drawing on knowledge of molecules and current research in this area (Year 8)
  • … demonstrate an understanding of the atomic nature of carbon dioxide by designing a solution for recovering CO2 from Earth's atmosphere and processing the recovered material (Years 9 & 10).


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was created to:

  • provide policymakers (governments) with regular scientific updates about climate change;
  • highlight the impact climate change will have on the planet in the future; and,
  • offer some ideas about how to tackle the challenges of climate change's potential effec
- or - to view worksheets

Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: Is there a way to recover past carbon emissions from the atmosphere, not just reduce future ones?

The IPCC calls this approach CDR: "Anthropogenic activities removing CO2 from the atmosphere and durably storing it in geological, terrestrial, or ocean reservoirs, or in products." Anthropogenic means "done by humans", so not relying on nature but being active in this effort and creating solutions.

The challenge

1. There are two parts to this challenge:

  • How can we filter carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, whilst leaving the oxygen and other things?
  • What do we do with the recovered carbon dioxide?

Spend some time researching some of the solutions that are currently being explored by scientists. Here are some good places to start, but you can also find your own resources:

- or - to view worksheets

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