In this lesson, students learn about climate change, calculate their carbon footprint, and take steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
Step 1 - Inquire: Students watch a video about climate change and work in groups to discuss how they positively or negatively impact climate change in their behaviors and practices.
Step 2 - Investigate: Students calculate their carbon footprint to discover their impact on the planet.
Step 3 - Inspire: Students learn how they can reverse the impact they make on climate change and inspire others to make a difference by creating posters for their classroom, homes, and community.
This lesson includes hands-on activities that relate to students’ daily lives and the real world.
Materials are easily accessible for teachers without much planning.
The lesson is intended for students to be reflective, creative, cooperative, and innovative.
Teachers should have a basic understanding of climate change.
Students should understand cooperative learning essentials, including how to be a good teammate and how to work in groups.
Two carbon footprint calculator options are provided. Students can use one or both.
Children’s literature can be used to support English Language Learners or provide supplements for enrichment. Possible books include:
The Tantrum that Saved the World by Megan Herbert and Michael E. Mann
Winston of Churchill: One Bear’s Battle Against Global Warming by Jean Davies Okimoto
The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge by Joanna Cole
What Is Climate Change? by Gail Herman
It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired, & Get Going by Chelsea Clinton
The Last Wild by Piers Torday
Our House Is on Fire by Jeanette Winter
Saving Earth Climate Change and the Fight for Our Future by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
After introducing students to climate change, this lesson immediately makes the climate crisis personal, challenging them to analyze how their behavior affects the climate. Excellent video resources from National Geographic and Rutgers are presented that explain the climate crisis and how it impacts New Jersey and provide actionable steps to conserve energy and mitigate climate change. Individuals are tasked with calculating their climate footprint and then creating a weeklong journal that aids them in discovering ways to reduce carbon emissions. These journals provide students with practice constructing and then solving their own word problems before comparing their results with other students. Finally, groups create posters that demonstrate how they can affect change in their community. This lesson plan is well-sourced, offers multiple opportunities for collaborative learning, and is recommended for teaching.
This lesson is aligned to New Jersey standards. Review the aligned standards directly in the lesson plan document and teacher slideshow.Discover more on the New Jersey Climate Education Hub.