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MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Economics, Civics

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plan, 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • Worksheet
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Podcast, 16 minutes, 2 seconds
  • Article

Regional Focus

North America, United States


Google Docs, PDF

America's Big Year of Climate Action Educator Guide

Ask a Question

  • This lesson plan uses hands-on activities and a podcast to teach students about recent legislation in the United States, how the acts seek to combat climate change, and how the government uses incentives and disincentives to promote change.
  • After listening to the podcast, students will become experts on one of the acts, participate in an expert panel, create mind maps to organize related ideas in each act, and draft their own bill to address a climate change issue.
Teaching Tips


  • This guide emphasizes a trauma-informed approach when discussing climate change and gives excellent suggestions for meaningful and sensitive learning in the classroom.
  • The creators of this resource encourage users to adapt it to fit their needs and to share that adaptation with colleagues.
  • Halfway through the activity, student groups are reorganized, which is a great way to get students working with multiple peers.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students may need the terms Superfund, brownfield, infrastructure, supply chain, semiconductor, legacy, biotechnology, and others defined before beginning the lesson.
  • Students should understand what climate change is and how humans contribute to it through emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • It may be beneficial for students to understand the legislative process, such as how a bill becomes law.
  • Teacher and student pages can be edited and adapted by clicking the Google Drive links for each resource and clicking the Use Template button.


  • Students can evaluate and discuss the ways in which each piece of legislation addresses or fails to address marginalized groups.
  • Language arts students can practice their summarization skills by creating an infographic to inform students about their given piece of legislation.
  • After drafting their bill, students in language arts classes can write a persuasive letter, urging constituents to support their bill.
Scientist Notes
Three recent American laws, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, take major steps to address climate change. This podcast episode from MIT explains what these do and the progress they are making. All links are well sourced and the information provided is verifiable. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-3 Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.11.9-12 Evaluate multiple procedures for making governmental decisions at the local, state, national, and international levels in terms of the civic purposes achieved.
      • D2.Civ.12.9-12 Analyze how people use and challenge local, state, national, and international laws to address a variety of public issues.
      • D2.Civ.13.9-12 Evaluate public policies in terms of intended and unintended outcomes, and related consequences.
      • D2.Civ.5.9-12 Evaluate citizens' and institutions' effectiveness in addressing social and political problems at the local, state, tribal, national, and/or international level.
      • D2.Civ.7.9-12 Apply civic virtues and democratic principles when working with others.
      • D2.Civ.9.9-12 Use appropriate deliberative processes in multiple settings.
    • Dimension 2: Economics
      • D2.Eco.1.9-12 Analyze how incentives influence choices that may result in policies with a range of costs and benefits for different groups.
      • D2.Eco.2.9-12 Use marginal benefits and marginal costs to construct an argument for or against an approach or solution to an economic issue.
      • D2.Eco.3.9-12 Analyze the ways in which incentives influence what is produced and distributed in a market system.
      • D2.Eco.7.9-12 Use benefits and costs to evaluate the effectiveness of government policies to improve market outcomes.
      • D2.Eco.8.9-12 Describe the possible consequences, both intended and unintended, of government policies to improve market outcomes.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: History/Social Studies (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.
    • Writing: History, Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/experiments, or technical processes.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.11-12.1 Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.
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