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Understanding Climate Change



SORTING OUT: Sample activities

Representing data

In the earlier activity, students found carbon pollutants and examples of greenhouse gases. Ask them to recall these. They share ideas with a partner and draw responses. Brainstorm words and record on a chart. Invite students to illustrate these, then group words on a class chart.

Classifying information

Students place a picture/name card of an emission source from home on their chest. They then move around the class to find one or more students with cards that might belong in a group similar to theirs. Students justify their groupings.


Using the information gained from the survey undertaken by parents, combine the results and visually represent these on a large graph. Ask students: What pollutants are emitted that can contribute to climate change? Why? Where do they come from?

What am I?

Play “What am I?” Each student states something known about a carbon pollutant or greenhouse gas emitted into the atmosphere. Record and illustrate responses. Make a class big book.

Six Hat Thinking

Introduce Edward de Bonos's Six Thinking Hats .

Red Hat

= feelings


What are my feelings about climate change?


White Hat

= Information


What are some facts we have learned about climate change?

Blue Hat

= what thinking is needed


Can we think of ways to reduce climate change?


Green Hat

= new ideas


What is possible for us to do as users or consumers of things that cause climate change?


Black Hat

= weaknesses


What questions or issues does our learning about climate change uncover?


Yellow Hat

= strengths


What are the good points we have learnt about climate change?

Place cut out hats on the floor and group responses as a class. Use the Blue Hat to determine major areas and focus questions for future investigation.

Class Database

Prepare a wall grid to record information collected by students for future investigations. The left-hand column might indicate names of different types of carbon pollution or greenhouse gas emission sources. Columns across the top might indicate the types of information collected and suggested by students, for example:

•  Type of carbon pollution/greenhouse gas source;

•  Number of sources of carbon pollution/greenhouse gas in our community;

•  Reason for the sources of carbon pollution/greenhouse gas; and

•  Things we can do to reduce carbon pollution/greenhouse gas.


Assessment idea: use checklist to record student contributions to the database. This might include their capacity to suggest categories as well as provide information. This will indicate a student's skill in following a task through to completion and capacity to collect and record information appropriate to the task.

Family Travel Snapshot

To assist with this activity, ask families to help students complete a travel diary to allow the class to examine the way we travel and help inform how we could better use the different ways of travelling. Students ask parents for help by completing a diary for one week that details when they used a car, public transport, bicycle or walked, the distance they travelled and a reason for the journey. With the help of family members, students complete Resource 1.3. On another page students draw other activities they and their families might do to help reduce their use of cars to later share with the class.

See Resource 1.


At school students look at the results from the family travel diary, sort responses and use these to make a class graph of the number and types of trips families took in one week, distances covered and reasons for the journeys. Students make statements from the graphed data.


Assessment idea. Ask students to identify:

•  The major reason for the use of family cars;

•  The trips that could have been made without using a car;

•  The car trips they could have shared with someone else; and

•  Whether any family could reduce the number of journeys they used cars for.


•  How often most families used cars, public transport, bicycle or walked;

•  What the most popular distance travelled was; and

•  What is the most common reason cars were used for.

This will indicate a student's capacity to interpret visual information.

Sing a futures perspective

Ask students to talk about what are issues:

  • For them in relation to travel in the present
  • For family members in relation to travel in the local area; and
  • Related to current forms of travel.

Expand on these thoughts and ask students what might be able to be done about these issues. Using students' ideas, brainsail possible means of travel/transport which might move families in future times that emit no smells or emissions.


Brainstorm reasons why people walk. E.g. People walk for lots of different reasons, for example walking to school, walking to and from public transport, walking to, from and at work, walking to local businesses/services, walking to friends' houses, walking for fitness and health, walking for recreation, walking the dog and walking for pleasure. Encourage students to add to this list and develop a mind map of the reasons people walk.

Some schools have organised a program that enables students to walk to school with others in the care of responsible adults. Encourage students to research how a 'walking school bus' works.

See the Walking School Bus Guide at


Talk with students about TravelSmart. TravelSmart encourage students and staff to use sustainable modes of transport to get to school. The programme promotes alternatives to the car, recognising the health, safety and social benefits of active travel and a reduction in local traffic congestion for both the school and its community. See

Ask students to identify ways they could get to school without using a car. Create signs promoting the benefits of walking and cycling to school. Display around the school.


Ask students to mark the best walking route from home to school, In 'locality' groups, students compare their journeys. Do any of the planned travel routes look similar? If so, would it be possible to walk together for at least part of the way? Are any parts of the route dangerous, eg crossing a major road? How could these be made safer?

Drawing and Modelling

In groups or individually, students sketch, draw or make a model of possible future forms of cars that do not produce air emissions. Display under appropriate labels. Invite other students and/or parents to view and hear about the drawings and models.

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