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Arithmetic Operations, Climate Change


3rd, 4th, 5th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences, Mathematics


50 minutes

Regional Focus



Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Emissions by Mode of Transportation (Green Transportation #2)

Created By Teachers:
Last Updated:
Apr 21, 2024
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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 learn about transportation planners and watch a video about Hong Kong's transit system.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
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.
  • The graph in the Inquire section uses the unit CO2e to measure emissions from different modes of transportation. CO2e stands for carbon dioxide equivalent, which is the measure of the impact of all greenhouse gases in terms of the amount of CO2 that would create the same amount of warming. For the purpose of this lesson and the age of the learners, it is probably best to just use the terms “carbon dioxide” and “CO2.”


  • There can be number-set choices for math problems available for different abilities and skill sets.
  • Students can work in pairs or small groups.
Scientist Notes

This lesson asks students to investigate the amount of carbon emitted by different forms of transportation. The numbers used for the calculations are backed by peer-reviewed science, and the methodologies come from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This lesson has passed our scientific review process.


Primary Standards

  • 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 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.

Supporting Standard

  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.3.3-5 Use maps of different scales to describe the locations of cultural and environmental characteristics.
Green Transportation Unit Lesson Plans


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