Activity Introduction

greenhouseQuick summary: Students think about what we stand to lose with rapid global warming. They compare life on Earth today with life on Earth 55 million years ago, and how much more we have to lose now. They are asked to think about what aspects of the planet they wouldn’t like to see disappear, and what they would take if they were forced to move to a new planet. Finally, students are asked to create a glossary of five new words for life on a new planet.

These activities “… are an invaluable tool for teachers to address climate change in an educationally relevant, scientifically sound, and action-­based way.” – Tim Flannery (Read more)

Learning goals:

  • Students understand how life on Earth has changed over time and how it continues to change.
  • Students recognise the importance of environmental phenomena.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking.

Cross-curriculum priorities: Sustainability OI.1.

Australian Curriculum content description:

Year 7 Geography

  • The factors that influence the decisions people make about where to live and their perceptions of the liveability of places (ACHGK043)
  • The influence of environmental quality on the liveability of places (ACHGK045)

Syllabus OutcomesGE4-1, GE4-4, GE4-6, GE4-2, GE4-3, GE4-5

Topic: We Are the Weather Makers

Time required: 60 mins

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – oversee activity and facilitate discussion

Resources required: Internet access, student worksheet.

Digital technology opportunities: Padlet, digital sharing capabilities.

Homework and extension opportunities: Includes opportunities for extension.

Key reading from We Are the Weather Makers: Chapter 5 – Time’s Gateways

Keywords: Climate change, livability, history, glossary.

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

Cool Australia would like to acknowledge:

  • Tim Flannery
  • David Harding, Rose Iser, Sally Stevens
  • Text Publishing and Purves Environmental Fund
  • Climate Council



Teacher Worksheet

sunTeacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: By participating in this activity students will understand how life on Earth has changed over time and how it continues to change. Students will also recognise the importance of environmental phenomena.

Teacher content information:


In addition, this website (A Journey Through Climate History - ABC - shows key events in the climatic history of the planet, alongside events in human history.



For more reliable information about climate change in Australia, visit the Climate Council.



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;
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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: What is the difference between a geological period and an era?


Part 1. Read the quotes above from We Are the Weather Makers. Why do you think Flannery writes that the world of today stands to lose far more from rapid warming than the world of 55 million years ago? What do we stand to lose today? List 5 aspects of our planet that you wouldn't like to see disappear:







Part 2. Imagine you have traveled back in time 55 million years. You document what you see on your voyage in a journal entry. Your entry should detail what the world looks like 55 million years ago: species of flora and fauna inhabiting the world, temperatures, CO2 levels, ocean changes, the atmosphere etc. Conduct your own research to complete this.

Write your journal entry here:


Part 3. Create a Venn Diagram to compare the differences and similarities between the world you have visited 55 million years ago and the world today. You should use the information you have gat

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