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Feb 28, 2022


50 minutes


3rd, 4th, 5th


  • Science
  • English Language Arts
  • Math
  • Interdisciplinary

Regional Focus

  • Global


  • Google Docs
  • Google Slides

Emissions by Mode of Transportation (Green Transportation #2)


In this lesson students compare and contrast emissions from different modes of transportation and explore the concept of transportation planning. 

Step 1 - Inquire: Students analyze a bar graph of carbon dioxide emissions by different modes of transportation and calculate the most environmentally conscious modes of travel based on emissions.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students analyze commuter survey results of the top concerns with public transportation and complete real-world math problems based on different transportation scenarios, calculating the difference in carbon emission outputs.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students reflect on how transportation systems are created and are introduced to the role of transportation planners and Hong Kong's world-class transit system.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
10 minutes
  • Teacher asks students which mode of transport from the chart they use the most for transportation (connection to self).
  • Teacher shows graph of carbon emissions data and asks students responsive questions:
    • Which mode of transport emits the most amount of CO2? The least? By how much?
    • An SUV emits ___ more pounds of CO2 per mile than a small car.
  • Students use the equation listed on slide 9 to determine the most environmentally conscious modes of travel.
20 minutes
  • Teacher defines public transportation and reveals the results of commuter surveys, showing commuters' top 10 concerns with public transportation.
  • Students brainstorm what changes the city could make to help solve these problems.
  • Students use Google Maps to route themselves to various locations using the school as their starting point. Students use the same equation from the Inquire section to determine their carbon footprint using different modes of transportation.
20 minutes
  • Teacher introduces the role of transportation planners in a city.
  • Students engage in scenario-based questions to understand the role of transportation planners.
  • Teacher shows the video How Hong Kong Built the World's Best Transit, demonstrating how Hong Kong built one of the world's best transit systems.
  • Students participate in turn-and-talk discussions with peers to compare Hong Kong's transit system to the transit system in their community.
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson builds upon students' understanding of place in the world and the impact of individual lifestyle choices.
  • It features relevant real-world math problems.
  • It offers career path integration in the sector of transportation planning and transit.
  • Students creatively brainstorm solutions for real-world issues and civil concerns.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This is lesson 2 of 6 in our 3rd-5th grade Green Transportation unit.
  • Students should have knowledge of reading a bar graph and a basic understanding of interpreting data.
  • If students do not have background knowledge of their community's public transportation systems, they should be appropriately introduced to the basics of how buses, metros, and railways work.


  • There can be number-set choices for math problems available for different abilities and skill sets.
  • Students can work in pairs or small groups.
  • 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.
      • 5-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.7 Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.9 Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
  • Common Core Math Standards (CCSS.MATH)
    • Measurement & Data (K-5)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.4.MD.A.2 Use the four operations to solve word problems involving distances, intervals of time, liquid volumes, masses of objects, and money, including problems involving simple fractions or decimals, and problems that require expressing measurements given in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Represent measurement quantities using diagrams such as number line diagrams that feature a measurement scale.
    • Number & Operations in Base Ten (K-5)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.2.NBT.B.5 Fluently add and subtract within 100 using strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction.


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