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Explore local and global issues| Calculating Carbon Footprints | 3-5, 6-8, 9-10, 11-12

Student Objective

Students will be able to:
1. understand the concept of a carbon footprint, and learn how to calculate their own impact;
2. analyze and discuss findings from carbon usage data with peers;
3. brainstorm and develop ideas to reduce their carbon footprint.


Teachers can address climate change by having students analyze their carbon footprint and then brainstorm ideas for reducing their carbon footprint.

Step 1: Instruct students to calculate their carbon footprint using a calculator. 

See EdTech Resources to access two calculators you can have your students use. We recommend the International Student Carbon Footprint Challenge calculator, where students can choose the “basic” or “advanced” calculator option and then answer a series of questions to help determine their carbon footprint. This calculator prompts students to enter household information about their home energy, waste, and transportation usages. Students may need to bring in monthly bills to help them respond to certain questions.

Step 2: Have students get in small groups and share their results.

While sharing their results, teachers can prompt students by asking:

  • In what areas are you and your group members producing the least amount of carbon?
  • In what areas are you and your group members producing the most carbon?
  • How does your carbon footprint along with the footprint of your group members compare to averages in the state, nation, and world?

Step 3: Ask each student to share one idea for reducing their carbon footprint.

As they develop that idea, the students can share their idea in their small group and get their feedback. After students share an idea with their group mates, they can add it to a Dotstorming Board. Other students can then read the idea, vote for it, and comment on the idea.

Step 4: Iterate idea based on feedback, then have students add idea to a collaborative digital board.

Teachers can make a Google Slides and share it with the class. Each student can then create a new slide on that presentation and add their idea to the slide. Other students can then view the presentation and provide feedback to their classmates by adding comments to the “speaker notes” section under the slide.


This instructional idea addresses the issue of people's carbon footprint, which they investigate using technologies. In addition, students use technologies for collaboration by sharing ideas for reducing their carbon footprint.

EdTech used in this activity:

International Student Carbon Footprint Challenge

Alternative Ed Tech you could use: