Greenhouse Gases: Enquire

Carbon dioxide gas makes up a tiny proportion of the gases we have in the Earth’s atmosphere (0.04%). However, the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere is very sensitive to changes in gas concentrations. This session introduces the idea that things humans do change atmospheric gas concentrations and this can be measured through the concept of a carbon footprint. They can conduct an enquiry to compare different activities across the school.

This is recommended as session four of the Key Stage Two Greenhouse Gases Unit, exploring the causes of climate change.

< 30 minutes


Green Skills 

  • Recording data
  • Environmental Stewardship

Step by step

Quick Starter Activity

Watch this short 5-minute video from WWF explaining what a carbon footprint is, how it's part of our environmental footprint, and four ways that people can reduce their carbon footprint: 

Preview image for the video "How to reduce your environmental footprint | WWF".


Explain to learners that while we can make personal changes, it is even more important to think of collective changes, both at home and school, and how much of a difference we can make when we act together. Help learners recognise the ways they can have influence.

Main Activity Choices

Suggestion 1 (Outdoor / Indoor) 

Classroom Carbon Footprint Survey. This activity asks learners to investigate activities in classrooms that contribute to a carbon footprint. Learners can think about how they will record and communicate their findings. 

Suggestion 2 (Indoor)

Eden Project: Climate Response. Doers, Shoppers, Learners, Shouters. This activity supports thinking about the ways in which everyone can choose to respond to the current situation - whether they see themselves as Doers, Shoppers, Learners, Shouters, or all of the above.

Top Tips

Stress the importance of making a positive change together rather than learners feeling that it is their sole responsibility to reduce carbon emissions. Explore how nature-based responses such as plant growing as well as practical changes like encouraging walking and cycling to school can all contribute to reducing a school community’s carbon footprint.