Primary and Secondary school activities to tackle Global Warming
These resources help you 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.
About the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
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 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?
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.
You can explore this lesson as part of both an English and a Science stream. or check out some of our favourite lessons below.
Everything you need to know about energy
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.
New! Amy’s Balancing Act – Teaching climate change through books
Written by Bjorn Sturmberg and illustrated by Laura Stitzel, Amy’s Balancing Act is a fantastic text for use in classrooms or at home to start a conversation with primary school aged kids about energy.
The story of Amy and her animal friends is a fable about the energy transition, from coal to clean energy technologies. It shows how this is essentially a challenge of letting go of the old and learning to work with a diverse team with individual strengths and weaknesses.
The book is unique in inspiring discussions of diversity, team work, the emotions of change, as well as the science of different energy technologies.
Find out more here.
Our favourite lessons
With Thanks to our Partner
Cool would also like to thank the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and The Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation for generously supporting the development of these lessons.
@2022 Cool Australia.
Cool Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to land, water and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and to Elders past, present and emerging.