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Arithmetic Operations


3rd, 4th, 5th




30 minutes

Regional Focus



Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Diet and Carbon Footprint Calculations

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Mar 2, 2024
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In this activity, students calculate the carbon footprint of several meals that they eat regularly and then consider the impact of changing their habits.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips
  • When discussing food and diets, be sure to preserve a non-judgemental space. Everyone can learn from this information and no one’s diet is "bad." We can all make changes big or small that can impact the planet. This lesson is about awareness, not guilt.
  • Consider the impacts of food insecurity in your classroom and make changes to this activity accordingly.
  • All calculations can be completed through addition and subtraction. Multiplication may be used if students’ proficiency allows.
  • Model completing the chart using the BBC’s Climate Change Food Calculator.
  • The drop-down menu on the BBC’s site includes alcoholic beverages. Address this if necessary, by pointing out that adults and children are responsible for their footprint and this tool is helpful for adults who are legally allowed to consume alcohol.
Scientist Notes

This activity allows students to calculate their carbon footprint from food sources. The data gathered throughout this exercise will motivate people to make dietary decisions that will improve their health and lessen their influence on the environment. After carefully going over the activity documents and data sources, we suggest that teachers use this activity in the classroom.


Primary Standards

  • Common Core Math Standards (CCSS.MATH)
    • Number & Operations in Base Ten (K-5)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.4.NBT.B.4 Fluently add and subtract multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.3.NBT.A.2 Fluently add and subtract within 1000 using strategies and algorithms based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction.
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NBT.B.5 Fluently multiply multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.

Supporting Standard

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 4-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and that their uses affect the environment.
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