Fact-based teaching activities for Primary and Secondary to tackle Global Warming
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 effects on the planet.
In 2021-22, the IPCC released Part 1 of the Sixth Assessment Report. This is the most up-to-date physical understanding of the climate system and climate change.
The report makes a number of important points:
- It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land (A1).
- Global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered. Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades (B1).
If we want to keep global warming at less than two degrees, which the IPCC says is the best-case scenario, we need to reduce our CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions significantly – and start right away.
So, what can we do?
In response to this report, Cool has created a range of resources to contextualise the report for Australian Primary and Secondary students, and use our Hope and Optimism framework to provide an approach to social actions involving students’ families and broader communities in tackling the challenge of climate change.
We know it’s challenging for teachers to incorporate it into lessons, and harder for students to understand it without guidance. We also know that this can be a challenging and sometimes overwhelming topic. The task that the report sets before us is a big one. But we believe this real-world issue is essential for students to understand, and these resources are designed to look objectively at a situation, make a conscious decision to focus on the good, have a belief that you can make an impact, and then identify what needs to be improved and work on the skills to be able to go out and do it.
Imagine a future with no carbon emissions…
The report describes five possible climate futures, where #1 is not great and #5 is extremely bad, based on our current and past emissions, and our actions going in the future.
But scenarios are not predictions. What if we exceeded the IPCC’s hopes? What could our climate-change future look like if we took current technologies and efforts to their best possible outcome? What is the potential if we went even further, working as hard as we can towards climate change solutions and even inventing more solutions that are beyond our current technological abilities?
In this opening lesson, which can be used as both a pre and post assessment task, students imagine our best possible carbon future and write a creative piece exploring that world to demonstrate their understanding of current climate challenges and future possible climate solutions.
This lesson is Cool’s one-stop-shop on fossil fuels, renewable energies, and how they impact climate change.
Currently, 24 gigatonnes of total annual carbon emissions are emissions from electricity and heating generation.
If, by 2025, 50% of electricity worldwide comes from zero-emissions sources, and by 2035, 90% of electricity worldwide comes from zero-emissions sources, this alone will reduce our carbon emissions by 16.5Gt.
Explore the different methods we currently use to generate energy, investigate a range of renewable alternatives, and start to lead the charge by exploring how we can make the transition. Go to activity.
Climate change solutions
After these structured openings, explore a range of ways we can potentially reduce our carbon emissions, and the challenges surrounding each of them. Each lesson in the following unit comes with a guided lesson plan for teachers, presentation slides for your classroom to guide your explicit teaching, guided student worksheets for independent inquiry, and a host of other articles and useful resources to expand student learning and support your teaching.
Cool is continually striving to create learning materials that bring the latest science to students in a way that matches the demands of the Australian curriculum on teachers.
Therefore we encourage you to explore these lessons in both an English and Science context. The Science stream will explore the practicalities of how things like carbon emissions or electric cars actually work, while the English stream asks students to think critically and creatively about the challenging questions that make people so passionate about issues around climate change. If you’re in a primary classroom, why not explore both simultaneously, and immerse your students in a rich learning context.
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.