Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this activity students establish the difference between their own needs and wants and begin to question what really is essential in their lives. They will explore how our demand for resources is affecting the Earth. Students then complete an inquiry project about the history of food and our future food security.

Learning goals:

  • Students identify the difference between needs and wants. They understand that some people have more than they need and others do not have enough resources to meet their needs.
  • Students build an understanding of how our resource use is causing environmental problems. 
  • Students look at the history of food and how it has changed over time.

Australian Curriculum content description:

Year 10 History

  • The intensification of environmental effects in the twentieth century as a result of population increase, urbanization, increasing industrial production and trade (ACDSEH125)
  • The growth and influence of the environment movement within Australia and overseas, and developments in ideas about the environment (notion of ‘Gaia’, ‘limits to growth’, concept of ‘sustainability’, concept of ‘rights of nature’) (ACDSEH126)
  • Responses of governments, including the Australian government, and international organisations to environmental threats since the 1960s (including deforestation and climate change) (ACDSEH128)
Year 10 English
  • Understand how language use can have inclusive and exclusive social effects, and can empower or disempower people (ACELA1564)

Syllabus OutcomesEN5-5C, HT5-1, HT5-3, HT5-4.

Topic: The Earth Wins
Time required: 60 mins
Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – oversee activity and guide discussions.
Resources required: Access to student worksheet.
Digital technology opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities.
Homework and extension opportunities: Student action activity

Keywords: Earth, changes, development, population, humans, food, sustainability.


This lesson was created in collaboration with Helifilms to support learning from the film.

Would you like to bring your class to see The Earth Wins? It’s now available ‘on-demand’ to teachers across Australia. To register your interest, simply email, mention how many students you’re likely to bring and your ideal date/time for a screening. We’ll look into bringing The Earth Wins to a cinema close to you… wherever you may be in Australia.



Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation:

Overarching learning goal: In this activity students explore the biological 'needs' of humans and compare them to human 'wants'. They explore the environmental effects of food production and how this has changed over time.

Teacher content information: 

This activity draws on concepts and footage from the film; The Earth Wins. 

Click here to visit The Earth Wins website.

Student and classroom organisation:

Step 1. City Limits

Begin this activity by watching the clip 'City Limits'. Set the context by explaining to students that in the time since the pictures of Earth taken during the Apollo 8 mission, our view of the world has changed: people realised that we only had one planet with a finite number of resources.

In Carl Sagan’s words “Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us.”

Students are asked to re

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Student Worksheet

Watch the video 'City Limits'.

The City Limits from Dominic on Vimeo.

In Carl Sagan’s words:

“Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us.”


1. In relation to the video, what do you think this means? 

 2. Would you say that resources and wealth are evenly distributed across the planet?

3. What is the difference between things humans 'need' and 'want'?  Do you need the new iPhone 5 or simply want it?  Fill in the table below by identifying 5 needs and 5 wants.





4. How is our demand for resources affecting the planet?


Group Inquiry - Food glorious food!

Food is needed for survival. Food security exists when all people have physical and economic access to enough safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food p

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