*Here are some suggestions for student projects around themes of RENEWABLE ENERGIES and SUSTAINABILITY. They are in no particular order. 

* Every project is designed as an inquiry/investigation! Each one invites young people to learn more about living more sustainably and the use of renewable energies.  THERE ARE NO 'RIGHT/CORRECT' ANSWERS TO ANY OF THE ACTIVITIES!!

* Each one can be adjusted for different levels of ability and challenge. Figures in brackets provide some suggestions for making projects more difficult. 

* Some of them are written so that students could  complete  them on their own.  BUT learning will be much more powerful from having teacher support, knowledge & interest. Some depend very much on teacher knowledge, support and co-operation.

* Each task includes, and some demand, possible activities from a number of subjects in the Australian School Curriculum: they are cross-curriculum projects as is the theme of Sustainability itself. The projects are mostly suitable for late Stage 2 & Stages 3 and 4.

*Tasks can be completed either as individual or group projects. They all involve elements of research and investigation – sometimes experimentation. 

*Every project lends itself to reports that can be posters/collages/ oral and/or written reports with audio-visuals. Some also could result in students taking action such as writing letters to media/businesses organizations/politicians/governments.

*  Some have been purposely structured require engagement with family members  & others.



While teaching about ‘Sustainability’ to Stage 1 students is more challenging we should not underestimate students skills and capacity for understanding! As Jerome Bruner demonstrated clearly:  ‘you can teach anything to a student of any age as long as it is structured appropriately'.

* A number of the projects outlined below can easily be modified for Stage 1, especially late Stage 1 and with students with increased awareness  and skills about aspects of sustainability from family and from outside school.


*There are lots of picture books [See References pages of the Education section of the website]  that can be used to explore issues of sustainability and conditions necessary for sustaining life for humans, animals, birds and insects. 

*These texts can be used to address all areas of the English Stage 1 English curriculum. They can also be used for Creative Arts activities [e.g., using process drama strategies to explore possible reactions of characters in the texts  to changes in weather & other environmental conditions) and representing different aspects of sustainable living for different creatures in art work/collages.


* Observations and records of the elements of daily weather and sky and how humans and animals [maybe even some in enclosures in the classroom] react/respond to weather changes. 

* Observations can be used as a basis for making charts/simple graphs and for simple Mathematical operations. Picture books can help explore the features of different environments and landscapes and challenges for sustainability in those. 

* The concept of ‘Climate’ can also be introduced using the idea of patterns - maybe recurring patterns from Mathematics or Art or Dance.


* HISTORY gives the opportunities to explore ways people have lived sustainably [ or not] over TIME.

* Studies of the ways of life and cultures of First Nations Peoples in Australia and other countries.

* Examples could include - changes/differences to/in ways of living through generations [student's grandparents, parents and today] - foods/diet; tools/machines; food/drink containers;transport; heating/cooling etc . Visits to museums & historic sites could be part of this.


* Simple guided investigations/ teacher-experiments to demonstrate some of the simple but basic principles of air movement, heating, condensation and precipitation. 

*Projects observing/investigating conditions necessary for sustainable life [e.g., growing plants in bottles/pots and varying conditions [light: heat: water] then represent their results in different ways. * 

*Strategies for caring [and not caring] for different environments can be related to texts chosen to read and discuss. 

* Properties of different materials can be introduced as well as different forms of energy. Simple demonstrations with solar cells and batteries and making batteries are also relevant to the expected learning of Stage 1 students.


* There are plenty of opportunities to explore the conditions of sustainable healthy living conditions for students including diet and things in our natural environments that we need to be protected from.     


*Opportunities for students to simulate experience, feel the ideas and conditions that support sustainable life, using the ideas, experiences and texts from other KLA-based activities should be used as often as possible. 

* Drama, Art, Dance and Music provide:

       * lots of possibilities to ‘put-students-in-the shoes’ of humans, animals and plants -  in different environments and conditions; 

       *to explore feelings and possibilities of characters in texts OR studied in History and ALSO plants/ animals being used in Science experiments or explored in Geography ;

 and so gain greater understanding of responses and reactions to environmental changes.

        * opportunities for imaginative creative works representing themes and ideas of sustainability and sustainable living.





a) What is meant by the term ‘food security’? Why is food security so important? Why is it an  issue that is being discussed in Australia and other countries?

b) 'Where does most of the food we eat in Australia come from?'

* Choose 2 or 3 food products [e.g., bread; milk; peanut butter; Cadbury chocolate; fish (salmon) etc] and investigate where they come from? What questions/issues do you have from your results? 

* How do your results compare with where our food in Australia came from in previous times [say 1950, 1970s, 2000 etc]. Have there been big changes? If so, why?   Maybe illustrate your findings on a map/on a collage.     Maybe it could be a whole class activity to construct the map/collage.

c) Go to the supermarket with your Mum and/or Dad. Examine and record what percentage of any of the products you buy have Australian ingredients? Most products will tell you this on the backs of packets or jars.

d) From your findings in tasks a) b) and c) what are the main questions/issues for you? Do you think Australia does have ‘food security’ into the future? Why? Why Not?

e) Some people have said that we will have to eat less meat and more plants [e.g., seaweed]  and insects in the future?  Try and find out why they are saying this? Are the amounts of land we use to grow food or graze animals problems? Why?   Maybe, research what some Australia's First Nations People have said about this.   

Or is it the types of food eat? Why? Which types of foods are causing problems? Or other reasons? 

f) How would you like to have a diet, also being developed now, of grasshoppers and cockroaches ? Why is this being done? Why choose these insects?

Some First Nations people in earlier times enjoyed eating grubs and moths. Maybe investigate the gathering of Australia’s First Nations people that used to happen each year at the Bogong moth eating time in the Snowy Mountains. [see ‘Dark Emu’ by Bruce Pascoe].

g) There are some foods now (e.g., meat ) that are being produced by plants or animal cells in a laboratory. Do some Internet searching to read about this. 

What is your attitude towards eating artificially/chemically produced foods? What are the members of your family’s  attitudes? Maybe compare these attitudes with your friends’ and classmates’ opinions.

h) From all of your research do you think Australia has food security into the future? Why? Why not? What actions do you think we need to take to make sure that we are able to have food security into the future? Are there some groups in the Australian population/ in the world that will need more help to achieve this? If so, which groups and why?

i) One of the Aboriginal Land Councils in northern Australia recently identified future food security as one of the very important challenges their First Nations people will face? Why might this be so?  Has this ever been a problem for these people before? If so when & why? What things changed in their environment to cause this concern?




* GLOBAL FOOD WASTE is the THIRD biggest polluter and emitter of greenhouse gases [Carbon Dioxide & METHANE] after China and United States of America!  [Michael Mobbs in 'The Seat of our plants', The Monthly , November, 2023 by Jane Gleeson-White, p16.] [Also the book Michael Mobbs Sustainable Food. available online and local libraries]

* An average Australian family throws out ½ ton of food waste every year!

* 20 tons of carrots every day are thrown away! 

* 1/3 of each potato and banana harvest is thrown away!  Why?

BECAUSE fruit and vegetable stores won’t buy them because WE, the customers won’t buy them because they 'aren’t the right shape!'

* In Australia we throw away 7.6 million tons of food waste every year! – while many Australians and people in other parts of the world don’t have enough food to eat!

* Only 142/563 local Councils collect food waste to process. For the other 400+ Councils the food waste goes into landfill [garbage dump]! Investigate whether your local Council waste centre recycles any food waste. If so, how do they do this and what do they do with it?

** When food waste rots in landfill it gives off METHANE. 

Methane is 26 times worse than Carbon Dioxide when it escapes into the atmosphere!

Watch some of the programs ‘War on Waste’ on ABC Television. What actions could you or your family take to reduce your food waste?

Remember - each Australian throws away over 300 kilograms of food each year!


‘FOOD WASTE SLEUTHING:      'How much food waste does your family throw away?'

a)In a big plastic bin collect all the food waste that your family would usually throw in the garbage for one week. MAKE SURE THAT YOUR BIN HAS A LID and you keep it OUTSIDE  away from PETS/ other animals/birds that might be attracted to your bin.

b)At the end of the week examine the different types of food thrown away. To do this you should not have to tip it all out! You should be able to move it around in the bin to see the different types of food and how many pieces there are. Or, you could keep a count of the different food types thrown away each day when you put them in the bin.


*IMPORTANT: At the end of the week make sure that you put what you have collected into the garbage bin and clean your bin. Any non-cooked waste [e.g., peelings etc] could be composted if you have a compost bin.

c)Make a list of the four or five types of food that are most common in your bin.

** Can you think of ways to change what you do in your family to reduce your waste? Maybe have a family discussion and come up with some ideas. For example, what do you do with 'leftovers'?

What actions can your class/your school take to reduce your food waste footprint?

 Make sure you talk to your teacher about what you would like to do.

Try some of these actions.  Keep doing them and see how much you can reduce your foodwaste over time - a week/ a month/ a term. 



a) Grow some carrots. You could grow them in the garden or a planter box or a pot.

When you pull them up to eat them study their shapes. Are there any that are ‘not the right shape’ [e.g., maybe too long and thin? Maybe too fat? Maybe with two or three ‘legs’?] 

Would you buy these ones if they were for sale? Would your parents buy them? Ask them. If not, why not?

Take some photos and show your friends and see if they would buy them.

b) Cook and eat the ‘not the right shape’ ones. Do they taste any different to the ‘right shape’ ones?

 If you didn’t grow any ‘misshapen’ vegetables, buy one to cook and eat. Cook some for your family and see what they think.         Some vegetable shops sell 'misshapen' vegetables at much lower prices.  

Have you changed your opinion about 'misshapen' veggies after eating them? Anyone else changed?

c)Can you come up with any actions [advertising/ slogan/campaign/video] we could take to try and change people’s attitudes to ‘not the right shape’ carrots and other vegetables and fruit.

d)Maybe do a), b) and c) as a class/school exercise and compare your results.




Do some research into composting. What is it? How is it done?. Research types of compost bins & and their advantages/disadvantages.  Can worms help? How? Why?

Are there any problems with composting? If so, how can we avoid causing them?

With your teacher, Invite a Council person to come and talk with your class/school about composting.

** Research what Michael Mobbs is doing in Chippendale ,Sydney and Bathurst, NSW with his  street composting ! [#lovefoodhatewastensw]. See Jane Gleeson-White, 'The Seat of our Plants', The Monthly, November (2023), pp 14-16,   AND Mobbs.M, 'Sustainable Food'. 

  • Google 'Cool Seat' - a beautifully designed attractive secure compost garden  using all recyclable materials (old corrugated iron water tanks and recycled hardwoods). Suitable for house, apartments and street communities! - & providing space for 76 kilograms of vegetable waste to turn into compost!  

If your family/your school does not have a compost bin maybe begin a campaign to buy a compost bin and start composting food and garden waste.   Your local Council will often have compost bins for sale.    

 Maybe install a worm farm - you can buy these from garden shops.


RECYCLE , REUSE, REPURPOSE [RRR- ‘The Circular Economy’]

As Australians we throw a lot more away than just good food.  Some young women say they only wear a dress one or two times before it is thrown away! Some second hand clothing stores report they receive 100,000 garments a year – some of them still have their sale labels attached!  [Watch the episode on fashion in  ‘War On Waste’ from the ABC]

We also throw away appliances, tools, crockery and glass, metal house fittings! In fact we are a ‘throw away society’ – many of our things are actually produced to only last a few years before they need to be replaced.

a)Some people would say that our whole way of life, the economy we have built, depends on a throw-away society. They use the term ‘built-in-obsolescence’: the goods we produce to sell are designed to only have a short life before they fail and have to be replaced with a new model. 

What are the arguments that support a ‘throw away economy’ – for ‘built-in-obsolescence’?  Do you agree with these? 

b) Can we change this? How? How would our lives, the way we live, work, shop, buy and produce things change if all the products from our factories, for example, home appliances, tools, cars, computers, phones, toys lasted forever?    


‘THE RECYCLE 'TREASURE HUNT’: See if you can identify somewhere [e.g., shop/store/ supermarket/organisation- some might be online] where you can recycle or reuse any of the following – see if you can find places for all of them and  score 100%!

Glass bottles: tin cans: paper: batteries: printer toner cartridges: coffee pods: coffee cups: computers and monitors: televisions: house paint: oil: books: trainers: denim jeans: other clothes: metal: plastic: toothpaste tubes: toothbrushes: crockery: games/ toys: spectacles.

Maybe this could be a class competition! Students could share with one another the recycle places they have found - or, maybe keep it secret!

 See who can get 100%. Whoever does receives a Certificate that you/the class designs and prints. What words would be on the Certificate?


‘THE WASTE CHALLENGE’: Become a ‘Waste Warrior’

For one week, in a big plastic bin with a lid, put all the things [BUT NOT food waste!] that you throw in your garbage or Council recycling bins [e.g., plastic bags, packaging & bottles, medical foil packages, tin cans, glass bottles, appliances , coffee pods [etc] – things you have used and are now throwing away. Look at everything you have collected.


a) Can you think of any ways that any of these might be RECYCLED, REUSED,  or used for something else, REPURPOSED [e.g., plastic bottles with their bottoms cut out buried in the ground and used to water plants in the garden; containers for growing seedlings or for flower pots; tin/plastic containers with a lid for tidying up and storing something else] What other ideas can you come up with?

b) Research  the Internet to identify some organisations that recycle the things you are throwing away and find out how they are doing this [for example BANISH: ‘Curby’: Repair Café; Decjuba;Recycle Away]. 

Maybe you can get your family/class;/school, with your teacher to begin a collection of the things thrown away that can be recycled by one of these organisations. 

Some local Councils work with recycle companies - see if your Council does. If it does maybe your school can organise to join the program.

c) Maybe you, with your teacher can organise to have a speaker come to your class/school from the local Council/ your local Recycle Centre/one of the recycling organisations that you have identified to talk with you about recycling and reusing and how it works.

d) What does the term ‘circular economy’ mean? How do ideas of  ‘recycle, reuse and repurpose’ relate to a ‘circular economy’? What things do you think we need to change about the way we live, make things, wear things, buy things etc to create a circular economy?



Plastic articles, bags, bottles and packaging [as maybe you found?] are one of the biggest problems in what we throw away. Plastic items cause problems for lots of fishes, dolphins and whales as well as albatross, seagulls and other birds. We have millions of plastic articles that at the moment we can’t recycle and go into waste dumps or oceans. We also have microplastics in our bodies that we have eaten with processed food – particularly food wrapped in plastic.

a)Do some research to find out how plastic is made? What are the materials from which plastic is made?  Do these materials cause more problems for being sustainable? Why? Why not?

b)There are different types of plastic. Examine some of the plastic things you throw away. What differences do you notice? Consider hard/soft; different colours; how the plastic is combined with other material (e.g., cardboard/paper) etc.  

What are the main types of plastic? Some maybe more sustainable and more easily recycled. Can you identify which are the more easily recycled? Maybe why? 

Investigate the ‘Curby’ and 'Recycle Away' websites to see what they are doing with plastic.

** Also have a look at what the young students at Northside Montessori School in Pymble, Sydney are doing with recycling plastic bottles to make reusable plastic pens!!       Go to:

 netzero.krg.nsw.gov.au/Community-Hub/Sustainable-Futures-Day,2023.     Click on 'Listen to panel speakers' and cursor down to the presentation 'Planet Pens Journey'.



a)For one whole week try not to use anything that is plastic. This will take lots of discipline and  willpower!  It's not easy!

 Maybe organise with your teacher and class to have a school ‘Plastic Free Week’! or a ‘Totally Recycling Week’. If you do, make sure you let the editor of your local paper or your local radio or TV station know – ring or write a letter!


Maybe anyone who breaks the rules and brings anything plastic to school pays a gold coin! Fines to go to a charity or recycle organization! -Maybe even have student ‘Plastic Inspectors’ with a funny hat who can check on what students are using for lunch packaging and drink bottles! Make sure the ‘inspectors’ carry a penalty money jar!


b)Keep a record of every article of plastic that you/your family uses. Maybe put all the plastic articles you/your family uses in one week into a container. Then identify those that are easily recyclable and those that aren’t.

Maybe you can do this, with the help of your teacher, with your class or even your school.


c)Look at each of the plastic articles that you were throwing away. Can you think of other things they could be used for [REPURPOSING]? Have a discussion in your class and brainstorm other uses for plastic items. Design and make some of the repurposed things/objects

Someone made a plastic dress out of plastic bags! 

Have a school/community display of them.


d)Do some research, talk with your parents and grandparents and find out what sorts of packaging were used before plastic was invented. What are these materials? Can we still use them? How would it change the way we buy things if we did use these?


Maybe visit a shop where you bring your own containers and they refill them with what you buy. Health Food shops are often like this. Some butcher shops will do this also.

How does that change the way we prepare for our food shopping? Does it change the way we think about being more sustainable?


e) There is some evidence that there are a number of bacteria, microbes and other organisms that can actually digest many of our plastic products. 

Do some research in your computer search engine on ‘bacteria/micro-organisms that can eat plastic’- I found six!  

Do you think these organisms will solve the problem of plastic waste? Why? Why not? Are some of these micro bugs better at eating plastic – or some plastics – than others? Bee hives might be important too!  

Write a report/make a speech/poster to your class about what you find?

f) There is some evidence that we now have microplastics in the organs in our bodies. Where do these microplastics come from? How did we get them? In which parts of our bodies are we likely to find the microplastics? Are they dangerous to us? What things can we do to try and reduce the amount of microplastic that we are getting in our bodies?



a)Three of the things  that we use in our kitchen and we usually throw away are plastic clingwrap, silver foil and baking paper. What do we use these for?  Why do we use them?


b)Do some research, talk with your parents and grandparents – maybe even your teacher can invite them to talk to the class -about what materials were used to do the same jobs before these were invented. Some historical museums also have these items.

Are these more sustainable than plastic, foil and baking paper? Could they be used again?

Maybe you could make some of these covers or wraps. Maybe it could be a class Craft or Design and Technology project.  Make them and sell them at the School Fete Day or at a community market to advertise Sustainability!.






HALF OF ALL CLOTHES IMPORTED FROM COUNTRIES OUTSIDE AUSTRALIA [where most of our clothes are made!]  GO TO LANDFILL!!            [Source: ABC ,Australian Fashion Council, 5/11/2023] 

The business model of the clothes industry is 1/3 of new garments made are sold at the shop price, 1/3 are sold at discounted prices and 1/3 are thrown away. What problems can you identify from this business model for a sustainable environment?

a)Research to find what is the raw product for many of the materials [e.g., rayon; polyester] that go into our clothes.  Why do we use these materials rather than natural ones [e.g.,cotton]?

How  do we throwaway the equivalent of 80,000 litres of oil to landfill every year in clothes ? 

b)How long do your clothes last you? Some clothes going to landfill still have their labels attached- they have never been worn! 

Maybe do a survey in your class/school to investigate how long students wear their clothes.  

Write a report/graph from your results for different clothes [e.g., T-shirts; trainers; shirts; skirts; jumpers; shoes;  hoodies].

c)What do you do with your clothes/your family’s clothes when you don’t want them/they don’t fit anymore? Do you recycle or repurpose them?    

Do a class survey and talk about the results. 

See if you can think of/design some new products for your unwanted clothes.

d)Have a look at some of the organizations that are recycling clothes [e.g., Thread Together: Repair Café; Lifeline; Salvation Army; Decjuba; Recycle Away] 

Do you have a clothing ‘swap shop’ at your school? If not, why not start one?!   What about starting a ‘Toy/Game/Sport Swap Shop’!

e)Ask your parents or grandparents to show you how clothes that needed repairing [had a hole in the sock or the jumper; needed a patch on the knees of pants]used to be repaired. Find out what a ‘sock dolly' was! Maybe you can learn and use  some repairing skills!

Maybe with your teacher you could organise a class/school ‘Clothes Repair’ Day!


Deakin University has discovered a way to RECYCLE, REUSE & REPURPOSE textiles!

Cloth is cut into small pieces. These are then ground into fine particles. The particles are mixed with water and then dried to form paste, clay or powder. These are then used to dye new cloth and clothes and in paints and plastics. The water is reused in the dyeing processes.  [Source: ABC News , 5/11/2023]. 

While this is great news it is not the answer to clothing waste!!  There needs to be big changes to the fashion and clothing industry - AND - changes by all of us who buy and wear the clothes!!

What changes do you suggest we need to make??  Maybe have a class discussion! 



It is clear with the policies of governments and the decreasing costs of producing electricity from sun, wind, falling water and waves within the next 20 years we will not be using coal, oil or gas as our main forms of energy. What that means is that the world as we now see it and experience it will be very different - our streets and suburbs will not look the same. Our homes will look and be different to those we live in now. For example, there will be no need of petrol stations! BBQs probably won't be using wood or gas bottles! What else will disappear? What other changes will there be to our streets, our landscapes, our farms, our coastlines?

This project invites you to do some investigating of those questions! To identify all of the things in our daily lives that are either made from fossil fuels, produce fossil fuels, transmit fossil fuels, that supply fossil fuels.  

BUT remember some things might also be required for renewable energies - or might be reused/repurposed to support them.   

a) Make a list of all the things that would disappear from your/your family's  daily lives - from our world- if we used no more fossil fuels - oil, petrol, gas, coal. 

Think about all of the things you do in your home now that depend on fossil fuels? How would they change?

Think of what you see and do everyday that now depend on burning fossil fuels. How would they change?

What new things do you think would be added to our homes? What new things would appear in our streets, our cities the landscape, our oceans?

b) Maybe try to draw a picture of what you think  your house, your street, your town/suburb would look like if we did not use any fossil fuels.  Maybe make a model or a diorama of a scene of a fossil-free future.



a)Design and draw/make a flag or banner to advertise ‘Living Sustainably’. What colours will you use? Why choose these? What symbols/pictures/memes will you use? Why choose these? Will you use any words?

Maybe do this as a whole class exercise. Display and talk about the results. Maybe display them on a school noticeboard/ show some of them at an assembly, even in a local shopping centre.


b)Make a drawing, paint a picture, make a collage or sculpture, design and make an object(s) on some theme/aspect of Sustainability/ towards a more sustainable world.

This could be a class project – each student makes their own OR it could be a whole-class project. With your teacher’s help it could be a whole-school project.

Find somewhere to display the results of your work in the school AND in the community.

c) Take some everyday objects that CAN’T be recycled [e.g., plastic bottles/food trays; clothes; toothbrushes; plastic bottle tops] and repurpose them for another use.



a)Playwriting – do this as a class project or with some friends.  These books:

R.Ewing & J. Saunders (2016) 'The School Drama Book: Drama, Literature and Literacy in the Creative    Classroom', Sydney, Currency Press.

R. Ewing & J.Simons ‘Beyond the Script’, Sydney: Primary English Teachers Association.

Will be very helpful in developing your play. You may find them in your school library.


You don't have to write an original play! You could do a Readers' Theatre' [see references above]. 

Choose a book [picture book/ chapter book/short story/poem] that has a theme of Sustainability. For example, 'The Lorax' by Dr Suess; 'The Duck & the Darklings' by Glenda Millard & Stephen Michael King ;   etc (there are plenty of books you can use - see the REFERENCES section of this website).  

Use the words that the characters speak in the book to create a script for each character.  

You will probably also need someone to be the Narrator. The Narrator reads the parts of the book that are not the words spoken by the characters themselves - the words that describe the setting for the book, changes in time of the story, etc. 

You might also add some music, noises and also some props for the characters. 

Then find an audience to watch your performance!


But if you want to write an original play, here are some ideas to get started!

First, choose a theme of sustainability, maybe a problem- maybe a town meeting about some issue of living more sustainably. A town meeting after a bushfire or a flood that has affected the town. A public meeting discussing the plan to cut down trees to install a community solar farm or wind turbines or electricity transmission lines.   

And characters don’t have to be human! Depending on the theme chosen they could be ‘Plastic Pest’, ‘Plastic Muncher’, ‘Slippery Salmon, ‘Arty Albatross ’, ‘Smarty Dolphin’,  characters that are all somehow connected to the issue of plastic, or maybe bush animals being affected by waste or cutting down the forest.

You might also have to do some research into the issue/problem and the characters you have selected and how they are affected by the problem.

Here are some useful steps to get you going after you have decided on the theme/subject of your play AND the characters who will be in it:

i) Discuss/brainstorm the sort of characteristics [words to use, accents, walks, costume, etc] and attitudes/emotions [angry, sad, loud, gentle, scared, ashamed etc] each character will have

ii)Decide on the event(s) that will happen in the play – they don’t have to be complex – they could just be introducing the problem [e.g., too much plastic in the oceans doing damage to all marine life; a decision by all the marine characters to not allow themselves to be caught so humans will not have any food; or beef cattle holding a protest because their farmer is going to fit methane-catchers to the rears of all his cattle or make them seaweed to stop thei methane escaping from their bodies!

iii) Write some words for each character [script] to tell the story of the events. Try to make sure every character has some words and try and have some humour as well as being serious! 

Maybe you can add some music and some projected images as well.

iv) Perform your play to an audience – could be family/ class/school assembly.



b)Write some poetry about anything to do with Sustainability or Living in a Sustainable World or with Renewable Energies [the Sun and Wind]. 

Maybe this could be a class project and everyone could read their poetry to each other. Maybe read some of it at a school assembly.

c) Write a song about sustainability! 

The easiest way to do this is to choose a simple song that you already know – a nursery rhyme; an advertising jingle; a pop song. 

Use the same tune but write your own words.  This is called 'parody'.

As you get more confident – and especially if you play an instrument- try writing your own tune as well.

For example, here is a parody based on the advertising jingle ‘We’re Happy Little Vegemites’:

                         ‘We’re little good waste warriors,

                         Watch everything we use

                         Try always to recycle, or repurpose and reuse.

                          We’re making our world better

                          Working every single day

                         ‘Cause we’re the ones that will be left behind,

                          The ones to clean up all the mess, the ones who’ll have to save ourselves,

                         When -you- oldies- pass- away!!’


Here are some words. Try to find or write a tune to fit the words! And then sing it to your friends!!

                            1)‘Plastics are no good for us,                                        

                                 We use them everyday

                               We use them once, not once again,                                          .                            

                               And throw them all away.


                          2) They’re made from oil and petrol

                               We know their bad today

                               They’re on and in our bodies

                               And they’ll never go away.


                         3) Let’s use paper bags for shopping,

                               Glass jars you use again.

                               Let’s get rid of all our plastics,

                               Make, birds, fish, dolphins grin!


Have a go! I’m sure that you can do much better than me!

It’s a lot of fun to share all of these with other people! Perform them in your class or maybe for the school and parents.


HEAT:         [Probably late Stage 2, 3 and 4 students – Possibly a whole Term’s project]

* Heat is something that every living thing has to manage every minute of every day. Without us being aware, our bodies and body systems are adjusting to the changes in temperature around us. How hot or cold it is on any day or at any particular time of day or night affects every human, every animal, every tree, and every plant, whether they live on land, in oceans, seas, lakes, rivers or in the air. As temperatures get colder we seek warmth. As temperature gets hotter we seek somewhere cool. 

Think of the changes that happen when on a sunny day clouds begin to cover the sun and a wind begins to blow. People at the beach begin to leave the water and the beach. Others put on a shirt or pull on a hoodie or jumper.

*As temperature changes so does the pressure of the air. For example people talk about being able to ‘smell rain coming in the air’. 

* How is the pressure of the air around us affected by changes in temperature?  What happens to pressure when the air becomes warmer? And colder?  Can you explain why these changes happen?

Don’t forget to look at the effect of pressure changes in your research tasks below.

* Humidity is the word that describes how much water vapour is being carried in the air around us. Low humidity means there is very little water vapor – it is a ‘dry’ heat. When humidity is ‘high’ there is a lot of water vapor in the air.  

* Humidity is expressed as percentage- the number of water vapour particles in each 100 particles of air is a simple way of understanding it.

* The level of humidity affects us as well. Scientists say that dry heat often is less demanding on our body than when humidity is high. See if you can find out why this is so? Does it have anything to do with perspiration?

[Teachers: maybe some teaching with simple diagrams/experiments could be important here to help students understand the relationships between temperature, air pressure and humidity].

Below are several projects designed to get you researching some of the ways that living things manage heat and cold and even extremes of temperature and the effects that temperature changes can have. 

A very useful source to investigate some of these questions is ‘HEAT: Life and death on a scorched planet’ by Jeff Goodell (2023), Melbourne: Black Inc. 

a)If you have a pet, a dog or cat or bird, make some observations!     How does their behaviour change with changes in temperature. Where does your dog or cat go inside or outside the house when it gets hot? How does their behaviour change? What about a bird in a cage? Where do they go in their cage? How does your behaviour change when the temperature rises? Do you feel differently if humidity is high or low? If so, what are the differences?

b) Observe some animals, insects or birds around your home. How does their behaviour change with changes in temperature? For example many people believe that when you see ants moving quickly around their nests you know there will be heavy rain: or during droughts there will be a plague of grasshoppers. 

There is evidence of birds knowing before humans that an earthquake or volcanic eruption or tsunami is going to occur. How do they know? What did you find from your observations?

 Make a ‘news’ report to your class.

c)Do some research and try and discover how the bodies and body systems of humans react to temperature changes and control our temperature. 

For example, why on hot days do we need to drink more water? 

What role does perspiration [‘sweat] play in keeping our bodies cool?   Why do we get ‘goosebumps’ on our bodies when it is cold?

d) Choose some animals, birds, fish or insects [e.g., ants or bees] and some trees and plants and investigate how they control temperature. Make sure that you choose examples from very hot places [e.g., deserts/the Tropics] AND cold places [e.g., the Arctic or Antarctica]. Also include animals, birds and plants that live on land, in water and the air. 

The books ‘Desert Jungle’(J.Baker) & ‘Fire’ & ‘Drought’ (J.French & Whately) might be very useful in this task.

Maybe this could be a whole class activity where different individuals/pairs could investigate a different animal, bird, fish or insect or tree/plant and make a report on their research together with a poster/a Power Point presentation/ a short video.

e) ‘Heat Tolerance’:

Every human, animal, tree and plant, every living thing has a range of temperature in which they are able to live without stress, damage or death. This is called ‘heat tolerance’. It marks the hottest and coldest temperatures in which we are able to live comfortably or beyond which we and other things become seriously affected and even die.

* As temperatures become hotter and hotter or colder, and we have ‘extreme’ temperature events, where temperatures change very quickly from very hot to very cold there is greater stress on our temperature controlling systems to adjust more rapidly.

* For example, here is part of a story about an extreme heat event in 2021 in a part of the United States of America that is usually cool and forested but where temperatures suddenly soared to 45 degrees:

‘When heat comes, it’s invisible. It doesn’t bend tree branches…it just surrounds you…you sweat, your heart races. You are thirsty. Birds vanish from the sky. Cars are untouchable. The air smells burned…fruit pickers worked through the night to pick cherries before they went to mush. Electric fans sold out. Libraries and churches created shelters for hundreds of people…first the snow melted and then the glaciers…streets and towns flooded…dead salmon swimming upstream to lay their eggs crowded the river banks and trees and plants dropped leaves…and 1000 people died.’  [from Goodell. J, 'HEAT:Life and death on a scorched planet']   

Australia and many other parts of the world have had similar extreme heat events.

Here are some projects that will get you investigating heat tolerances:

i)Research some of the animals, insects, trees and plants, that you have studied in b)  above and try to discover what their ‘heat tolerances’ are – what is the hottest and coldest temperatures they can tolerate before serious damage and death. 

Again this could be a class project. It could be an extension of your research in b).


ii)The world is now experiencing more extreme weather events. There are many cities and countries that have recently had temperatures they have never experienced before, temperatures of well over 40 degrees Centigrade – some places over 50 degrees centigrade.

Choose a location – town, city, country or region in the world that has experienced an extreme temperature event.

 Investigate the impacts/effects of this event on the people who live there? How did their lives change? What things did they use/do to cope with the extreme temperatures? How successful were these? 

Were their homes/buildings/towns/ cities designed to be able to deal with the temperature extremes? 

Were some groups of people affected more by the extreme weather event than others? If so, who were they? How and why were they affected?

Have they now had to change/adapt the way they lived before the extreme event? What adaptions have they made? Have they been successful? Will they help the people to better survive a future extreme heat event? Why? Why not?

Again this could be a class project with different individuals/pairs researching different parts of the world that have experienced extreme heat or extreme cold and presenting  reports of their findings.


iii)But heat does not only affect living things. It also affects all the materials and systems that are part of our daily lives. It impacts all of the things that we need to stay alive, our food, water, air and everything we build and live in. 

Already we have examples of natural and built things that have been affected by extreme temperatures.

See if you can find an example of one of these. What effect did it have on the lives of the people and animals who lived there?

iv)If you look around, you will see many materials that we use to make things we use every day. For example, metals [steel, aluminium, copper in bridges, railway lines and carriages, home appliances, sinks, taps and handles, cars/trucks/ships, electricity transmission lines, toys, games and sport], glass [in windows, doors, rooves, stoves, cars boats and aeroplanes], materials for roads and airport runways [e.g., bitumen, cement, sand],plastics [ water, sewerage and gas pipes; clothing; packaging, bottles, all transport vehicles, toys and games].

Each of these materials have heat tolerances as well. In fact when engineers are designing and building  things they calculate into their designs heat tolerances of these materials. 

To do this they make assumptions, based on all previous records and evidence of how hot or cold something is likely to get. 

With more extremes of temperature and weather some of these assumptions are no longer correct: ‘one-in-a-once-in hundred years’ fire or flood is now one in ten or five years’: all insurance for our homes and buildings are also based on assumptions about weather patterns and records and again many of these are not correct any longer.

v)Select one of these materials [steel, aluminium, glass, bitumen or cement] or something that is built from them [appliances, computers, mobile phones, vehicles, roads/runways, pipes, etc]  and try to find out what their heat tolerances are. There may be different tolerances for different forms/types of these materials/products. 

** What happens to the material or product you have selected if temperatures go above or below their heat tolerances? When do they start, for example, to melt or freeze, not function properly anymore? What would be the effects of this happening on our day-to-day lives? What services that we depend on would be affected? 

This could be a whole class project with different individuals/pairs researching different materials sharing reports at the end of the research. 

It might also be useful to see if your teacher can organise to have an engineer (s) come to your class/school to talk about the heat tolerances of the materials we depend on.


vi)Heat also affects all of the equipment and systems that we use as well. For example, why must any rooms with electronic equipment have to be cool? Think of how our entire lives have become dependent on mobile phones, computers, microprocessors and delicate electrical circuitry.

Try and find out the heat tolerances for some of these systems – for example a micro electric circuits [like those used in nearly every appliance we use, in every means of communication, in every energy system, in every form of transport, in shopping and banking, in our water and sewage systems, our sport and entertainment etc] , a mobile phone, an iPad, a computer, an electronic game controller etc.

An engineer, particularly an electrical engineer or computer/IT engineer would be very useful to talk to. Maybe there is a Mum or Dad of one of the students in your class.


* A challenge! See if you can identify something we need or have to do, or use in our daily lives that does not depend on some form of electronic computer-based device. Maybe a class competition! 

Make sure you consider how things are made, what they are made from and what they need to work and be maintained so that they continue to work!


Climate scientists and engineers suggest that extremes of temperature are going to become more common. That temperatures of 45 and even 50 degrees Centigrade will not be unusual in many parts of Australia.

vii)There have already been examples around the world of human life changing and systems collapsing (e.g., airports closed; trains cars and trucks unable to run; computers in hospitals, shops, banks not able to function; electricity failing). [REF:  'HEAT', J. Goodell]

A final task!

**From all of your research on the heat tolerances of living things, materials and systems what would be the main impacts/effects/consequences of long periods of days/months where temperatures reached 45 degrees Centigrade or more? How would our everyday lives be affected/changed? What would happen to our wellbeing and the services we take for granted like hospitals, banking, working, shopping, driving, communicating – and schooling!

f) Building Design

i)Consider your home or your school. How well designed and equipped are they to be able to accommodate periods of extreme heat or cold? 

Do some research to see what architects and engineers have said about designing and creating homes/ buildings that are sustainable in extremes of heat. 

* There are in some locations actual examples of rooms/houses demonstrating ways of keeping buildings warm and cool. Maybe see if you can find one to visit. 

** Here are two online examples you might look at:  Google Michael Mobbs 'Sustainable House'. You will be able to go on a virtual journey of the house he has made sustainable at 58 Myrtle Street, at the inner Sydney suburb of Chippendale.  

** The second is on the Ku-ringai-Council's website located on the report of the September, 2023 'Sustainable Futures Day' - go to  netzero/krg.nsw.gov.au/Community-Hub/Sustainable-Futures-Day,2023  Click 'Listen to Panel Speakers'  and scroll down to 'Smart Home Journey' presented by James Abbott. 

You can also do a Google search for online sites that show you examples of sustainable houses. Many local Councils, like Ku-ring-gai have websites like that. When you go to a Council website try typing in 'Net Zero'.

* How does your home/school score on what they suggest? What actions could you take to improve the sustainability of your home or school – look particularly at staying cool!

Design your heat sustainable house:

ii)From all the research you have completed around heat and heat tolerances and sustainable houses , design and draw your sustainable house.  You will probably need to add some labels and explanatory notes on some of the features of your house. 

 Maybe build a model of your sustainable house- or community/city. You could use Lego or other modelling materials [balsa/cardboard and include miniature people, animals, transport vehicles etc] 

Maybe different class members could design and build different parts of a community or city [e.g., houses, shops/shopping centres, transport routes, sport grounds/stadiums. You may need to include some signs/notes to explain some of your design/model.

You will find lots of ideas about what to consider and include from a Google search!

The model could either be small scale or, if possible take up a whole room

Invite other classes/parents/school/community groups/ councillors/politicians to visit and talk to them about sustainable living. Ask an engineer/architect to come and assess how sustainable your design is and suggestions for change.


FUELS & ENERGY:     [Probably best suited to Stages 3/4]

The main fuels that we have used since the Industrial Revolution beginning in the 1700s for energy and power in our homes, businesses, industries and transport have been coal, oil and gas. 

These are all called ‘fossil fuels’ because they were produced a long time ago and are not being created today. Once used and burnt they are gone forever!

Worse still! They are fuels that produce energy through burning the carbon that has been stored in them for hundreds of thousands, even millions of years.

a) Research carbon. What is it? How is it stored? Where is it stored? What are the positives and negatives of carbon?  What happens when we release the carbon by burning it? 

What happens in the atmosphere when we burn carbon? Why? What is the ‘glasshouse effect’? 

Why is this a problem?  What is the ‘Cinderella Zone’? Why is it called that?

b) Why are the  ‘renewable’ energies', mainly sun and wind, better to use than coal, oil and gas? 

Many scientists and engineers [for example, Ross Garnaut, 'The Superpower Transformation'; Alan Finkel 'Powering Up' 2023] say that Australia can become one of the ‘Superpowers’ in renewable energy in the world. Do you agree? Why ? 

** A look at Saul Griffith's book, ‘The Big Switch’, Black Inc 2023 might help. Find out how much sun’s energy Australia receives every year. What other natural and human resources does Australia have to make it a possible large producer, even an exporter of renewable energy?

c) What are the advantages and disadvantages of moving from fossil-fuel energy to energy by renewable sources? Discuss this with your parents/friends/ grandparents. What do they think? Why? Do you agree with them?

** Maybe you could have a class debate on the topic ‘That Australia must replace fossil-fuels with renewables’.

d) What do you think are the most important challenges we face in Australia to move to energy  from renewable sources? 

** Maybe your class could have a town meeting where people are speaking about an issue of moving to renewable energy..  

For example, the reason for the town meeting could be that an electric company, ‘Green Energy’

wants to build high voltage power lines across farming land close to a regional town in NSW. They need to do this to be able to transport the electricity that will be generated by a large solar power plant just outside the town to their electricity distribution centre. This will require 30 metre tall towers to carry the transmission lines erected on farmers’ land. The farmers will be paid an annual rent for the use of their land. Some of this land is not able to be farmed because it is too steep and rocky The rent is based on the current value of the land used by the towers.

Some people would have arguments in favour of changing to sun and wind energy and would support the transmission lines - particularly if they created jobs. 

Each person speaking could wear something or carry something  that identifies their role – or have a nameplate with their job/role in front of them.

You will need a Chair for the meeting.   Possible roles at the town meeting could be:

e)the politician representing the district in Federal parliament,  who is a strong believer in the need to transition to renewable energy and a strong supporter  of the proposed plan;

ii)the company energy provider who needs the transmission lines to carry the power;

iii)the town electrician who will be responsible for, and earning money from the building of both the solar plant and the transmission lines;

iv)the farmers who will have the transmission lines erected on their properties. One at least is someone whose family has farmed the land for over a hundred years; one who only bought the property last year; and one who is in difficulty financially and the money he will be paid by the electricity company will mean he won’t be in debt any longer;

v) the town mayor who sees lots of employment for the town’s residents by building the solar farm and transmission lines;

vii) the manager of the solar farm that will employ 100 of the town’s residents;

viii) the president of the town’s Business Committee who represents the interests of all the businesses in the town;

ix) several mothers who have formed a group to fight against the proposed transmission lines because they are worried about living close to high voltage electricity transmission lines; and several wives and mothers who support the project because it will employ them or their husbands/partners;

x) a farmer from another district nearby who has a farm on which similar transmission lines have been erected and is very happy with the result;

xi) an electrical engineer who has been a consultant advising the Federal government on policy about renewable energy.

** These are only suggestions! There are plenty of other 'roles' that people could take. AND remember that people taking the roles can be any gender.

Possibly what each person is going to say at the meeting could be researched and organised by different groups [say 2 or 3]of students- one group for each role. Drama strategies [e.g., frozen moments; hot seating] could provide opportunities to rehearse the planned scripts by the meeting participants.

The town meeting could happen after each group presented the results of their research.

** NOTE: Have a look at the 'Playwriting'  of 'Writing Plays, Poetry and Songs' section above.


ICE AGES:  [Probably for late Stage 2 & Stage 3/4]

There have been several Ice Ages, some lasting thousands of years during the history of the Earth. During these sea levels fell and rose up to 100 metres with the freezing of more of the land and then the melting of larger areas of ice in the polar regions.


Scientists are now researching the results of those rises and falls in sea level

For example, see Joelle Gergis [an internationally acclaimed Australian climate scientist and an author of the International Panel on Climate Change Reports] 'The Summer Ahead', The Monthly, September, 2023 pp 16-24.

This is because what happened then might help us to understand what will happen to the Earth if the atmosphere and oceans continue to become warmer. 

The last Ice Age ended about 10,000 years ago. First Nations People in many countries still have stories connected to the last Ice Age that have passed down through oral stories [see for example ‘The Edge of Memory’ by Phillip Nunn]. Stories of 'land bridges' between countries where once you could walk that are now coered by  seas: of other places [like the middle of Australia] that is now very dry that were once covered by sea.

a)Do some research and try to discover what the effects on the land, oceans and atmosphere were during the times when there was a greater area of frozen land and when there was less. How do scientists know this? What techniques do they use?

b)Take a map of NSW/Australia/ the world and shade over all of the lands that would be covered in water if sea levels rose by 10 metres or 20 metres or 30 metres. Why are the seas already rising? What is causing this to happen?

c) Research the impacts of the sea level rises that have happened already on islands in the Torres Strait and south Pacific Ocean? What steps are the people of these islands taking as a result of these rises? What are they asking for? 

What legal steps are they taking [e.g., in the International Court of Justice]? What are the implications for Australia from their actions? Look at the legal case that has been presented by the students from Vanuatu.  

What is your attitude to their claims? Do you think countries like Australia, the United States of America, China and India who are burning more carbon than other countries should pay fines to help those people whose islands and lands are being most affected by sea level rises and other impacts of the climate becoming warmer?  Discuss this with your parents/ grandparents/ other adults/friends.

For example: The coal that Australia digs up and exports to countries overseas causes twice as much emissions as all of the emissions that we produce in Australia  

Maybe you can have a class debate, ‘That the worst polluting countries should pay fines to those countries most affected by burning of fossil fuels’, or maybe a role play in which a group of ‘Torres Strait Islanders’ come to ‘a committee of the Australian government’ to present their case for reparations from Australia because of the impact of climate change and sea level rises on their land and their ways of life.

d)The glaciers in western Antarctic and the western Antarctic Ice Sheets are of particular concern to climate scientists and glaciologists. Try to discover why they are more concerned about the Antarctic Ice sheets than those in the Arctic?  Why and where are the Ice Sheets of the western Antarctic melting? What are the possible effects of this melting on the glaciers of the western Antarctic?

NOTE: The September Monthly article Joelle Gergis mentioned above will be very helpful.

e) Scientists are employing one of the Antarctic marine mammals to help them in their research. They are bringing back vital information for understanding what is happening.

See if you can find out which mammals are being used and how the scientists are gathering the information? What is the information telling the scientists about what is happening in the ocean and ice sheets of western Antarctica.

NOTE: A very useful source for d) and e) is Tiddell.J (2023) ‘HEAT: Life and death on a scorched planet, Melbourne: Black Inc.

f) One of the biggest worries scientists have is the impact - even the shutting down- of the melting of the polar ice on the ocean currents that are responsible for the distribution of heat around the world. 

i) Why are the scientists so worried about this? 

 Investigate why the ocean currents in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are so important in distributing heat between the tropics and the poles - particularly the North Atlantic ocean and European countries. How do these ocean 'conveyor belts' work to distribute heat energy?  Why is what they do so important?

What happens when large amounts of water from melted ice flow into oceans? 

How does it change the composition and density of the water? Why are these changes so important? How do they affect the ocean 'conveyor belt' currents that distribute heat? What impacts can these changes have on the climate of countries?  

NOTE: Again, the article by Joelle Gergis and book by Goodell will be very useful!



You can buy solar cell kits very cheaply at lots of toy and modelling shops. Maybe the school could buy some solar cell kits.

a)Research what a ‘photon’ is and how ‘photon energy’ works. You may need some help from your teacher or another adult. Maybe one of the students in your class has a Mum/Dad who is an electrical engineer or someone who installs solar roof panels and they can come to your class and talk to you about photons and photovoltaic energy

Photovoltaic energy is the basis of all solar generated energy.

b)Do some research to discover how a solar panel is able to change the sun’s electromagnetic energy into electricity.

c)Many engineers and scientists say that it is important to get as many solar panels on the rooves of our homes and businesses as possible. This is because we can generate much more electricity this way.

FOR EXAMPLE: See The Big Switch by Saul Griffiths; Powering Up by Alan Finkel.

Do a survey of your neighbourhood to see how many rooves have solar panels. Maybe choose a block of four streets around where you live. If they are short streets you might choose more than one block.

You don’t even have to walk the streets to do your survey! You can do it by going to Google Earth and putting in each of the streets you want to survey. This is sometimes a better way to do it because it gives you a view from above – however, it could be out of date, so check what year the photos were taken.

d)Calculate the percentage of how many of the houses have solar panels. Then compare them with the latest statistics for NSW and Australia, maybe other countries- 

You may be interested to know that Australia leads the world in the number of solar roof systems compared to the size of our population- 30% of Aussie homes have solar roof panels! But that doesn’t mean that every street or state has 30% - some have more, some have less! What did you find?

e)Investigate how the rate of installation of roof solar panels has changed from 1960 onwards. Maybe try to project how many years it will take for every house in a NSW or other places to have solar panels.

You can go into the apv website and see roof panel statistics for any Postcode in Australia. Maybe present your results in a graph for each state/ country.  Maybe it could be completed as a class project and compare results.

f)Research the benefits  of having roof solar panels. Saul Griffith, ‘The Big Switch’ is an excellent reference for this. What are the reasons people give for not fitting them? Maybe talk to some relatives/friends about their attitudes to installing or not installing solar roof panels. Maybe have a debate in class about arguments for and against.

g)Many solar engineers suggest that if your house does have solar panels it is also a good idea to install a battery at your house to store the electricity you generate. 

What are the advantages of doing this, for you, for Australia?

MAYBE HAVE A LOOK AT THE CASE STUDY on this website titled 'Battery Energy Security Not Cost Is The Issue'  

 How would installing a battery at your home maybe change the cost of the electricity you use?  

h)Modelling: Use the solar cells to design and make solar powered cars and boats.

MAYBE Google 'Solar Car Races from Adelaide to Perth' to get some ideas!  

You could have a class competition to see who can make the fastest or most efficient vehicle or one that has to carry a weight etc. You could even try to design and make a solar powered rocket. Some women engineers have already built a solar powered aeroplane.




[Developed by David Smith [Electrifying Bradfield  (electrifyingbradfield.org) ]  August,2023.]