Activity Introduction

Carbon dioxide is a gas which is found naturally in small amounts in our atmosphere. Learn about the impact of rising carbon dioxide levels and what has contributed to this. Think about ways we can reduce our carbon footprint by the small choices we and our families make every day. 

Carbon dioxide gas makes up only a tiny proportion of the gases we have in our earth’s atmosphere (0.04%). However, it has an enormously important job: it holds heat (or ‘radiation energy’) from the sun in our atmosphere, so the surface of the earth doesn’t freeze. However, its tiny amounts (and the important job it does retaining the sun’s heat) also mean that the warmth of the earth’s atmosphere is VERY sensitive to changes in the amount of carbon dioxide.

This is a good activity for kids to complete independently.

Ideal for: Upper Primary Ages 10 – 12

Themes: 

  • investigate 
  • brain teasers 
  • think and connect 

Time required: 40 minutes 

Curriculum connections: Mathematics, Science, Ethical Understanding, ICT Capability, Sustainability

Tips for Parents and Carers

Children often hear about the issue of global warming in the media, at home and at school. However, there are two striking observations we can make about the way in which young people hear about, and process, messages about this pressing global environmental issue.

  • What is happening to our planet is almost always couched in terms of ‘doom and gloom’. Accompanying the discourse surrounding this issue is the sense that a rapidly warming climate is both inevitable and irreversible, therefore there is nothing we can do about it other than lie back and accept a cataclysmic fate.
  • There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding about what has actually caused global warming – in particular, the role of carbon dioxide and its human-induced increase in the atmosphere. Young people often perceive CO2 as a nasty, unstoppable pollutant choking up the atmosphere, quite unaware that CO2 is actually a small but highly sensitive and naturally occurring component of Earth’s atmosphere. They are also generally unaware that if humans were to take immediate action, it is possible to draw down much of the human contribution to atmospheric CO2 and so ameliorate its detrimental impact on our climate, oceans and surface temperatures on Earth.

Lesson & Curriculum Details

Resources Required

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Learning@Home from Cool Australia

Learning@Home resources are designed for parents and teachers to use with children in the home environment. They can be used as stand-alone activities or built into existing curriculum-aligned learning programs. Our Learning@Home series includes two types of resources. The first are fun and challenging real-world activities for all ages, the second are self-directed lessons for upper primary and secondary students. These lessons support independent learning in remote or school settings.

2040 logoCool 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.

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

Worksheets

Student Worksheet

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint - Activity Instructions

Carbon dioxide gas makes up only a tiny proportion of the gases we have in our earth’s atmosphere (0.04%). However, it has an enormously important job: it holds heat (or ‘radiation energy’) from the sun in our atmosphere, so the surface of the earth doesn’t freeze. However, its tiny amounts (and the important job it does retaining the sun’s heat) also mean that the warmth of the earth’s atmosphere is VERY sensitive to changes in the amount of carbon dioxide.

Part A: Understanding Carbon Dioxide And Climate Change

Step 1. Watch this video clip that explains carbon dioxide fluctuations over time and its recent great increase: 

Why Reducing Our Carbon Emissions Matters (https://youtu.be/rivf479bW8Q)

As you can see, we can graph a line graph that shows the increase in CO2 concentrations since about 1950 - and show that this corresponds with an increase in average temperatures as our atmosphere has warmed up. This is definitely

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