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MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative


8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences, English Language Arts

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Podcasts, 14 minutes, 45 seconds
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Articles and Websites

Regional Focus



Google Docs, PDF

Don't Throw Away Your Refrigerator

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  • This teacher guide includes six activities to accompany a TIL podcast episode regarding the danger of refrigerants in our landfills, especially as they leak from dumped refrigerators.
  • Students will read about the Montreal Protocol, analyze data on temperature anomalies and the presence of refrigerants in the atmosphere, evaluate the influence of molecular structure on a chemical's ability to trap heat, and contribute to a citizen investigation of refrigerants in local supermarkets.
Teaching Tips


  • The podcast, although presenting possibly upsetting information for sensitive students, ends on a positive note.
  • The web page includes a complete transcript and background resources for teachers to deepen their understanding.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students can stream the podcast via many clickable apps included on the page. 
  • Students should have some prior knowledge of greenhouse gases and the greenhouse effect.
  • Because the vocabulary is rigorous, a definition list will be appropriate. 


  • English teachers can have students create a T-chart of the positives and negatives of both refrigerators and air conditioners as they listen to the podcast.  Then, they can create academic paragraphs based on their notes.
  • The United Nations is mentioned, so Social Studies teachers can have students research other measures the UN has taken in response to climate change.
  • Art teachers can utilize the information as a basis for a unit on art as social action.  Students can listen to the podcast, complete the investigation activity, and then create posters and digital ads as a call to action regarding safe ways to dispose of refrigerators. 
Scientist Notes
This resource discusses the history of refrigerants, how they work, and their impact on the ozone hole. The example of the ozone hole is a hopeful example of how the world can work together to solve a climate crisis and can provide students some hope in climate discussions. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-4 Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
      • MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
      • 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.
    • PS2: Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
      • HS-PS2-6 Communicate scientific and technical information about why the molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.9 Compare and contrast findings presented in a text to those from other sources (including their own experiments), noting when the findings support or contradict previous explanations or accounts.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.2 Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.
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