The Sustainability Teachers’ Academy team is committed to creating and providing curricular resources that span a diverse range of topics—including food systems sustainability, quality of life and well-being, decision-making for sustainability, and much more. Our lessons are applicable for grades 6-9 with variations presented that will enable you to tailor the activity for a younger or older audience.
Sustainability is an interdisciplinary topic, hence our lessons can be used across all class subjects. The resources provided here are part of the broader suite of resources and support that teachers receive when participating in the National Sustainability Teachers’ Academy.
Have a few minutes at the beginning of your class?
Use these mini-activities to jumpstart critical thinking for sustainability.
Use these lessons on various topics to promote critical debate skills among students considering the three pillars of sustainability (environment, society, economy).
Should the city expand public transportation? Could it improve our environment, our society and our economy? This lesson focuses on Phoenix, but can be used as a prompt for research into local public transportation options.
Keywords: urban planning, public transportation
Life Cycle Analysis
Scientists around the world are using Life Cycle Analyses (LCA) to determine the true impact of our products. Use these lessons to begin exploring the life cycle of everyday products and their influence on our environment, society and economy.
The Chicken Nugget
Using system diagrams, explore a chicken nugget as the window to our food systems web. How does a chicken nugget impact our environment, our society and our economy? How does our food decisions impact the lives of people and the planet?
Keywords: food systems, agriculture, waste
Use these prompts to spark creative presentations about relevant sustainability issues.
What is sustainability? How does it relate to our human needs? Use this lesson to help students define and understand sustainability.
Keywords: introduction, sustainability definitions, basic needs
A Closer Look at Our Human Footprint
How do we measure our impact on the earth? Use various global trends and graphs to explore our current epoch: the anthropocene.
Keywords: anthropocene, climate change, human impact
A Locust Story
How destructive can one insect be? Are we helpless to this environmental force? The answers might surprise you. Explore the latest scientific research on the global impact on our environment, society and economy through this two-day activity.
Keywords: food systems, global sustainability, policy, entomology
Future of a Vacant Lot
Can we improve a whole community by improving a vacant lot? Analyze issues related to public spaces, understand how local stakeholders are affected and propose possible solutions for a sustainable community space.
Keywords: stakeholder engagement, socio-economic sustainability, community development
Identifying & Analyzing Sustainability Problems
The problems we face are a new class of problems: wicked problems. Use this multi-day unit to begin unraveling sustainability issues and create actions steps to a better future.
Keywords: sustainability introduction, sustainability competencies, sustainable development goals, wicked problems, electronic waste
How to Analyze Sustainability Problems – Food Deserts
‘Food desert’ is a term for urban areas where it is difficult to buy fresh, healthy food. Explore this systemic issue and identify ways to make a difference.
Keywords: problem-solving, unintended consequences, food systems
Redlining: Past, Present and Future
Using an online tool, explore how the history of our neighborhoods are part of a larger system of oppression, socio-economically and environmentally.
Keywords: redlining, systemic oppression, path dependence, urban planning
Visualizing Sustainability: PhotoVoice
Encourage students of all ages to explore their thoughts on sustainability through the lens of their own experience. Students take and share photos to discuss their own experiences of sustainability in their community.
Keywords: community development, photography
Sense & Sustainability
Where does data come from? Use your oldest data collection tool to understand the roots of science and sustainability.
Keywords: data, introduction, mindfulness
You are Here
Discover and reflect on how your identity and location are intertwined.
Keywords: sense of place, identity, sustainability
How do we make sustainable decisions? Explore everyday decisions we face.
Keywords: decision making, human impact
A: Sustainable Grocery Bags
Measuring Your Eco Footprint
What is our impact on the planet? Use this lesson to help students understand their ecological footprint and how we can change our impact.
Neighborhoods for Happiness
Is there a relationship between sustainability and happiness? What does a sustainable neighborhood look like to you?
Envision a Sustainable Neighborhood
Zero Food Waste Challenge
Nearly 40% of all food in the United States is wasted. Work together to create a sustainable solution.
Food Systems are Dynamic
How are we connected to our food? Let us count the ways…it might surprise you.
Keywords: food systems, sustainable agriculture, disturbances
Teaching Sustainability with Flash Fiction
Stories connect us to each other and the world around us. Use these data-informed fiction prompts to promote creative science writing.
Keywords: creative writing, climate change, data
School Gardener’s Almanacs
Echoing The Old Farmer’s Almanac, School Gardener’s Almanacs are a collection of recipes, calendars, activities, local stories, and gardening guides that invite K-12 students and their families to explore their neighborhood with love and appreciation.