The How Big Are Your Carbon Feet challenge is a popular with teachers for kicking off this year’s Classroom Energy Diet Challenge. Here are some tips from teachers on how to complete the challenge and comments on what has worked best for their classrooms.

How to begin:
Most teachers like to introduce this challenge by explaining what a carbon footprint is and having a classroom brainstorming session on ways to cut back on carbon emissions. For younger grades, some teachers have found it helpful to use the Carbon Monster video to simplify the concept.

 

Calculating their carbon footprint:
Once students have an understanding of what a carbon footprint is, they can calculate their own by using one of the carbon footprint calculators provided in the resource section. The most popular calculators are:

Global Footprint Calculator

Carbon Footprint Calculator

Zero Footprint Youth Calculator

Pledging to make a change!
The final step in the challenge is to talk with students about the results, calculate the class average, and encourage students to make a pledge to decrease their carbon footprint. Students can show their pledge by creating a decorative footprint to put on display as a way to shares what they have learned!

Why teachers love this challenge:

  • “I really like this challenge because it is accessible and really gives the students a chance to make many small changes to their lives that add up.
  • “I loved the part when students were shocked by their own carbon footprint score and then went back and re-answered questions to see how it affected their score!”
  • “This challenge was great! We were not aware of the effect we are having on the environment. We really want to spread awareness about this situation.”
  • “Students were surprised by how much carbon is produced for their clothes and food to get to Canada. They were encouraged that many of these items can actually be purchased in Canada to reduce their carbon footprint.”
  • “This is a great challenge to really make people think about how they waste energy daily while other countries really have to struggle to have enough energy to survive.”
  • “This challenge opened up a lot more questions around the classrooms in regards to how the footprint is estimated, how the amount of resources is calculated, and meaningful ways to reduce our footprint.”