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Climate Change, Design Thinking


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences, Computer Science & Design Thinking


70 minutes

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Northeast, New Jersey


Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Gaming and Climate Change

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Dec 1, 2022


In this lesson, students explore the role of video games in bringing awareness to climate change and explore the tensions and purposes of video games as they relate to climate change.

Step 1 - Inquire: Students discuss the role of video games in education and behavior modification, sharing their personal experiences and thoughts.


Step 2 - Investigate: Students read an article on addressing attitudes and behaviors towards climate change through online and mobile gaming.


Step 3 - Inspire: Students choose to evaluate the effectiveness of climate change games or design their own climate change video game.


  • This lesson can be used in computer science, environmental science, physics, and engineering classes.

  • Students are given voice and choice in this lesson.

  • Students connect to an activity many already engage in to rediscover new purposes.

  • Teachers have several differentiated options depending on skill, interest, and experience.

  • This can be self-directed or teacher-guided and can be drawn out or built upon as the starting point of a larger unit on game design or elements of computer-based game design.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should have a basic understanding of climate change and its different effects.

  • Students should have an awareness of basic game design categories.

  • Teachers should be clear on which computer programs and platforms the school has access to for coding and game design.


  • Depending on various coding or computer skill levels, teachers can adjust for different degrees of difficulty and ability. For an introduction class or for students who have little experience with computers or coding, the Inspire activity can be completed and mapped out on paper.

  • Teachers can adjust the Inspire section to target specific computer science or coding skills or to focus on aspects such as design, evaluation, music, visuals, decisions, and rewards.

  • Students can work independently or in small groups with varied purposes. For example, the whole class can design a game and together come up with the goal and purpose. Smaller groups can be formed to design different elements of the game.

  • Teachers can decide to offer one or both options in the Inspire section. Teachers can also choose to focus only on evaluating current climate change video or mobile games, dividing the class into groups where each group evaluates 2-3 existing games.

  • Students can use different programs or learning platforms depending on what different schools have.

  • Students can present their findings or games to different audiences.

This lesson challenges students to think about how video games can be utilized to teach others about climate change. Students walk through this lesson by first critically thinking about what makes video games fun and entertaining, followed by reading an article and discussion centered around how gaming can educate people on climate change, and finally options at the end to create their own game about climate change. The lesson includes an op-ed article written by an author who writes about many things including sustainability. This is a great lesson for teaching alternative methods to educating the public about climate change.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Computer Science & Design Thinking
    • Computer Science
      • 8.1.12.DA.1: Create interactive data visualizations using software tools to help others better understand real world phenomena, including climate change.
    • Design Thinking
      • 8.2.12.ED.3: Evaluate several models of the same type of product and make recommendations for a new design based on a cost benefit analysis.

  • Teacher leads an open class discussion on the following questions:

    • How many of you game online or play games on your phone?

    • What is your favorite video or mobile game? Why?

    • What do you like about gaming?

    • What makes a good game?

    • How have video games influenced your behavior or the behavior of someone you know?

  • Several discussion options can be used, including whole class, small groups, or student pairs. Another option is to have this open-ended discussion at the end of the previous day to lead into the next day’s Investigate and Inspire sections.

  • Students read Gaming vs Climate Change - Means and Matters independently, in a small group, or as a whole class.

  • As they read, students pause after every section to reflect on key quotations from the text. Students write responses in the Student Document.

  • After reading the whole article, the teacher pauses to ask SEL and self-reflective questions before engaging deeper into the article. Sample questions include:

    • How did you feel reading this article?

    • How do you feel as you finish reading the article?

    • How do these games make you feel about climate change?

  • Pick a couple of the quotations from the Student Document to discuss as a class.

  • Teacher facilitates further discussion, using the questions:

    • Would you play any of these games? Why or why not?
    • Which game intrigues you the most? Why?
  • Students make a list of the many climate change games the article mentions or briefly describes. Students pick 2-3 and conduct light research to learn more details about the game. If possible, students can find a demo or free version of the game to engage with.

  • Students or teachers pick one of two options:

    • Option 1: Compare and contrast the 2-3 climate change games they picked.
      • Compare and contrast the purpose and goal of each game.
      • Compare and contrast specific gaming aspects such as design, modalities, characters and plot development, decisions and rewards, music, etc.
    • Option 2: Students design their own climate change game.
      • Students pick one specific topic in climate change. Examples can include air pollution, water pollution, loss of habitat for a particular animal, rising sea levels, reducing carbon footprint, reducing energy consumption, etc.
      • Students identify 1-2 specific objectives for their game.
      • Examples: I want players to understand specific effects of reducing energy. I want players to learn about alternative energy sources. I want players to understand the different kinds of air pollution. I want players to see how rising sea levels will affect their community. I want players to understand the financial benefits of reducing waste.
  • Teacher ends the lesson with a reflection. This can be done on a different day depending on how long teachers use for this lesson. Students can self-reflect as an exit ticket or this can be a whole class closure activity.

    • What was most surprising about this lesson or activity?

    • What was the most difficult to design or compare and contrast?

    • What did you learn about gaming that you didn’t know before?

    • How did this lesson affect your perspective on gaming and climate change?

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