Activity Introduction

palm fruit farvestingQuick summary: Students investigate how the palm oil industry is moving towards more sustainable practices. Students begin by watching a video about sustainable palm oil and participating in a guided discussion. Students then participate in a role play using Edward de Bono’s Thinking Hats, asking them to think about the consequences of conventional and sustainable palm oil production.

WWF-Logo-small1This lesson has been developed in partnership with WWF-Australia. WWF has been working to promote the transition away from conventional palm oil production to Certified Sustainable Palm Oil that conserves forests, protects species, and secures livelihoods.



Essential questions:

  • What is the relationship between palm oil consumption and the environment?
  • What is sustainability, and what is the relationship between palm oil consumption and sustainability?
  • What is my role as a consumer of palm oil and why should I make choices about buying products containing palm oil?
  • Why are there trade-offs associated with making decisions about consuming palm oil?
  • How can I use my consumer power to affect positive change with regards to palm oil?
  • How can I use the Internet to help me find out more about palm oil production and consumption?

21st century skills:

Problem Solving Creative Thinking Empathy Critical Thinking Problem Finding Team Work

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 5 HASS

  • Types of resources (natural, human, capital) and the ways societies use them to satisfy the needs and wants of present and future generations (ACHASSK120)
  • Influences on consumer choices and methods that can be used to help make informed personal consumer and financial choices (ACHASSK121)
  • Evaluate evidence to draw conclusions (ACHASSI101)
  • Work in groups to generate responses to issues and challenges (ACHASSI102)
  • Use criteria to make decisions and judgements and consider advantages and disadvantages of preferring one decision over others (ACHASSI103)

Year 6 HASS

  • The effect that consumer and financial decisions can have on the individual, the broader community and the environment (ACHASSK150)
  • How the concept of opportunity cost involves choices about the alternative use of resources and the need to consider trade-offs (ACHASSK149)
  • Evaluate evidence to draw conclusions (ACHASSI129)
  • Work in groups to generate responses to issues and challenges (ACHASSI130)
  • Use criteria to make decisions and judgements and consider advantages and disadvantages of preferring one decision over others (ACHASSI131)

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Ethical Understanding, Personal and Social Capability.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.3, OI.5, OI.6, OI.7.

Relevant part of the Year 5 HASS achievement standards:

Students identify and describe the interconnections between people and the human and environmental characteristics of places, and recognise the effects of these interconnections on the characteristics of places and environments. They work with others to generate alternative responses to an issue or challenge and reflect on their learning to independently propose action, describing the possible effects of their proposed action.

Relevant part of the Year 6 HASS achievement standards:

Students recognise why choices about the allocation of resources involve trade-offs and explain why it is important to be informed when making consumer and financial decisions. They collaboratively generate alternative responses to an issue, use criteria to make decisions and identify the advantages and disadvantages of preferring one decision over others.

Topic: Sustainable Palm Oil, Consumption.

Unit of work: Sustainable Palm Oil.

Time required: 60+ mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – lead students in Thinking Hat task and reflection.

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one copy per student OR computers/tablets to access the online worksheet. 6 printed copies of Sustainable palm oil – Thinking hats sheet. Device capable of presenting a website to the class. Palm oil factsheet.

Digital technology opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities.

Keywords: Palm oil, sustainability, sustainable palm oil, RSPO, De Bono’s Thinking hats.

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


Teacher Worksheet

deforestationTeacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students will understand the benefits of sustainable palm oil production from the perspective of multiple players. Students will recognise the role of consumers in ensuring that sustainable palm oil production remains viable in the short and long term.

Teacher content information: Palm oil is an edible oil that comes from the fruit of oil palm trees (Elaeis guineensis). It is a highly versatile oil, used as an ingredient in many foods, cosmetics and cleaning products that you find in your supermarket.

Palm oil production and consumption continues to grow: globally we now use over 50 million tonnes per year and this figure is expected to grow by another 50% by 2050. This growing global demand for palm oil has driven development of vast plantations in key growing countries in South East Asia, as well as in emerging areas of production, such as West Africa and Latin America.

While the communities and countries growing palm oil have benefi

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: What is sustainable palm oil?

Community meeting

palm oil thinking hats final

Based on the perspective of ONE of the profiles above (assigned by your teacher), your group needs to answer the questions below. One or more scribes need to write down your group’s ideas. A class discussion will follow.

PROFILES: Read all of the profiles, then highlight the identity your group has been allocated. Think from the perspective of this person when answering the questions below. Answer questions 3 - 5 using the particular Thinking Hat listed. All profiles can be either male or female.

Answer the following questions in your group:

1. What are this group’s main goals or needs in terms of palm oil? e.g. a farmer relies upon growing palm oil for income.

2. What are some key problems this group might come across? e.g. a consumer doesn't have alternatives to buying products with palm oil in them.

3. What is your allocated Thinking Hat (approach/way of thinking)?

4. What ideas, questions or iss

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