Solving the world’s greatest problem

I want my grade 5 science students to solve the world’s greatest problem.

How might we invent a product using renewable energy sources to reduce our carbon foot print?


Research and Introduction

Important environmental science topics will be learned through research and discussions in our grade 5 classroom. Ideally students will learn the answers  the following essential questions throughout the research phase of the LAUNCH sequence. The learning goal is to be able to answer all of the essential questions.The project goal is to use their learning to invent a product which will reduce our dependence on burning fossil fuels.

10 Essential Questions

  1. What are fossil fuels?
  2. What is climate change?
  3. What are renewable energy sources?
  4. How does the green house effect work?
  5. What type of gases make up our atmosphere?
  6. How does burning fossil fuel effect our environment?
  7. What is a carbon foot print and how do I calculate it?
  8. Does the production of meat as food effect the atmosphere?
  9. How does having too much carbon dioxide effect our atmosphere?
  10. How does using renewable energy sources effect the environment?


Recognizing “The Problem”

Our dependence on fossil fuels and overindulgence in meat consumption is causing climate change.

How might we ….

How might we invent a product using renewable energy sources to reduce our carbon foot print.


Students will complete a crazy eight activity to come up with a product which will help to reduce green house gas emissions. 8 minutes and 8 squares, 1 minute per square.

After 8 minutes students will be asked to select their best idea and create a story board to show how they may create this product.


Students will place their idea on the wall and provide feedback on other ideas. Students will be asked to post their critique on top of each storyboard.


Everyone will build a model of their product.

Sharing with the world

Students will share their idea with the class in any form they would like. Some may want to create a commercial for their invention. Students will have the opportunity to share their product with the school in a showcase display for their products.

My hope

At the conclusion of this project students will have created change. Their knowledge of our effect on the environment will impact the decisions that they make when managing their own energy consumption.

5 thoughts on “Solving the world’s greatest problem

  1. @bhayes Another action plan question that captures the essence of your intention here might be something like

    “How might we deepen student learning through authentic project based assessment”

    or if you are really focusing on the environmental side of things

    “How might we foster environmental stewardship in students through project based learning”

    This is a worthy action plan focus and will require some research into what really makes PBL sing.

    Have you looked at

    Looping in some PBL experts…

    @lmcbeth @tfaucher @mmosun @timrollwagen
    @acampbellrogers @mneale @ashaikh @gvogt

  2. Incorporating even more inquiry and project based learning into science has the potential for students to make a personal connection to this real-world issue. It’s exciting to hear your plans! You’ve outlined hopes and goals for the students, now as you guide and support the students throughout the experiences, I am looking forward to hearing about your own connection and take-away from it all.

  3. @bhayes. Love that you have created space in your curriculum to connect to real-world problems. What a great way to bring your science curriculum off of the page. I wonder if you have thought about the provocations or thought starters you might use to help your students connect to and deepen their thinking about an issue? Often provocations can play a powerful role in sparking and developing critical and compassionate thinking. More to come I’m sure!

  4. Hi Bob,
    I love the question and how you are inviting students to invent something and how you’re setting up the questions that they need to be able to answer. Are you using the Future Design School curriculum for the program? How far have you been in the process? What are your learnings so far? I love seeing the design thinking process in action, maybe you can share some of your thoughts and student work along the way!
    Thanks for sharing,

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