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Explore the Impact of Climate Change on Australia’s Marine and Coastal Environment


FINDING OUT: Sample Activities


Investigate carbon pollution and greenhouse gas emissions emitted from school and local area and their effects

Students browse websites about different types of carbon pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that are emitted and the effects they have on these places.

Talk about whether there is evidence of any carbon pollution or greenhouse gas emissions being emitted to air, land or water inside the school building and from the school grounds?

Consider the street the school is located in. Look for evidence of any greenhouse gas emissions being emitted from driveways, chimneys, vehicles, lawnmowers, shops and service stations or machinery that is being used. Discuss and chart these and describe their effects on places and people.

Focus on the local area that the students live in. Brainstorm lists of greenhouse gas emissions that students recall being emitted to air, land or water in the area. Discuss and chart these and describe their effects on places and people.

Complete summaries of class suggestions.

Find out more

Find out more about the localities emitting greenhouse gas emissions to air, land and water sources. Talk with the students about these examples, introducing new vocabulary as needed. Ask students to decide what the purpose of each locality is and what it could be emitting at any one time and describe the effects on places and people.

Look for clues and ask questions. For example:

  • What is this place like?
  • What catches the eye?
  • What can you see in the background?
  • What do people do here?
  • What is happening in this place?
  • What is made, produced or manufactured here?
  • How are people travelling in this place?
  • Could this place be anywhere else?
  • Why is this place here?
  • How/ why/ by whom were decisions made to develop this place?
  • What grows here?
  • What animals live here?
  • What is being emitted here these and what are the effects on places and people?
  • What might the consequences of these emissions and effects be?

Emissions from home

Encourage younger students to focus on activities that emit greenhouse gases from a home or community source. Ask students to brainstorm a list of greenhouse gas emissions which can be produced at home and these and describe their effects on places and people.

Compile these onto a large class list and classify.

Small Group Investigations

Students work in groups. Each group is to locate relevant information on what schools are doing within the Carbon Sink Schools (CSS) program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at school and in the community and compile a pros and cons list for using similar actions from the students' point of view.


Visit a Carbon Sink School or read a case study

Explain to the students that they will be visiting a local school actively involved in the Carbon Sink Schools program or reading case studies about Carbon Sink schools, to help undertake research so that they can reflect on some of the actions schools are typically involved in when working towards resource management and sustainable living.

While visiting, observe some of the projects and initiatives undertaken at the school. Make a close study of ways schools are reducing greenhouse gas emissions emitted to the air, water and land these and the effects of these projects and initiatives on the schools and its community.

Prepare a list of questions to investigate.

During the investigation at a school students could also collect evidence of activities and projects that could be undertaken at their school.

If reading about Carbon Sink schools, see

Encourage student to research and describe the various projects and initiatives in use within Carbon Sink schools that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and their effects on the school and its community.

Encourage students to report on how the projects and initiatives work, the greenhouse gas emissions they exclude or reduce from affecting the environment, and their impact or effect on the school and its community.

Similar initiatives in our school

Find out about your schools' approach to reducing greenhouse has emissions and its commitment to become more sustainable.

Map this out on a large chart. Who is responsible for what? What happens in all the classes? What happens in the school canteen, school grounds, school hall and office areas? Have audits been undertaken to look at what greenhouse gas emissions are emitted to the environment from these areas?

Consider the use of electricity at the school. Investigate whether the school:

•  Can replace or supplement the school's energy supply with renewable energy sources (such as GreenPower, solar hot water, photovoltaics, ground source heat pump);

•  Has an air conditioning & heating policy;

•  Uses occupancy detectors or clockwork time delays;

•  Uses natural lighting;

•  Has reduction strategies in place, for example are appliances turned off overnight, weekends and holidays, have skylights been installed, have energy efficient globes been installed, have 4-5A star rated appliances been installed )

•  Undertakes any innovative actions to reduce school greenhouse gas emissions by improving energy efficiency, reducing energy consumption or supporting renewable energy.

•  Consider the reduction of emissions from traffic at the school. Investigate whether the school:

•  Has undertaken an audit of how students and staff travel to the school;

•  Engages in Walking School Bus or TravelSmart programs;

•  Encourages staff and students to regularly walk or cycle to school if they live close enough;

•  Ensures that school buses or other public transport services provide access to the school

•  Encourages staff and students to regularly share lifts if they have to use a car to get to school;

•  Has a secure and dry place for bike storage;

•  Provides students with cycling skills training;

•  Has developed a network of safe routes to school and approached the local government about improving unsafe road crossings near the school; and

•  Works with local or regional partners in their sustainable transport activities.

Find out whether the school has undertaken a waste audit. Ascertain the quantity of waste that is generated at the school; how it is disposed of and recycled, or reused.

Find out whether the school has implemented a colored bin system so that waste can be sorted, recycled and reused. Are these distributed across the whole school so that everyone has access to them? Are they collected regularly? Does the school collect, reuse and recycle green and organic waste? Does it have a compost bin or area? Are food scraps collected and composted from classrooms, the staffroom and school grounds? Does the school have a worm farm? Is it maintained? How is the worm casting and liquid reused? Does the school have a policy to buy recycled paper? Does it buy products that generate minimal waste? Does the school have a double-sided paper policy? Does it collect paper from the community that has only been used on one side? Is it reused as spare paper in classrooms? Are special events at the school committed to waste management? Are sustainable waste practices implemented at special events at the school?

Consider water at the school and water that leaves the school grounds.

Investigate whether the school:

•  Collects and uses rainwater at the school? Describe what it is being used for.

•  Safely reuses water at the school? Describe what it is being used for.

•  Reflects on and can identify what factors may have influenced their results. (e.g. drought, broken pipes, water restrictions, water timers, , installation of 3-5A star rated appliances, non water based approaches to cleaning, irrigation regimes in place, collection of stormwater for gardens, planting of appropriate tolerant plants to suit local conditions, reduction strategies, mulching of school gardens, water conservation campaign, dual flush cisterns installed, waterless/composting toilets installed, aqua clics installed, water efficient shower-heads installed).

•  Can identify and quantify rainfall inputs to the school?

•  Can identify and quantify identifiable outputs from the school?

•  Can identify and quantify collectable surfaces? e.g. roofs

•  Can identify and quantify water retention areas?

•  Can identify water re-use options? Can develop an action plan against individual water quality issues? E.g. Erosion on the oval contributes sediments to the stream and managing the erosion will improve the health of the stream.

•  Is actively involved in conserving water and improving its quality?

Research leadership in the community

Find out about what the leaders (Local Councils) and leading businesses are doing in regard to their management of greenhouse gas emissions that are emitted to and the environment. Contact the local council and businesses to seek this information.

Ongoing research task: national or world leaders

Ask small groups of students to select a ‘national' or ‘world' to prepare a profile about. In selecting the leaders, consider those who have deliberately set out to change the way greenhouse gas emissions are emitted to the environment or have influenced others in a national or global sense.

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