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MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Biology, Health, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Worksheets
  • Podcasts, 13 minutes, 09 seconds

Regional Focus




Food and Climate Change

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  • This lesson teaches students about the causes and impacts of food waste, plant-based diets, and crop varieties.
  • The resource includes a teacher's guide with additional differentiation tips and a rubric, worksheets, readings, a podcast, and activities about how food relates to climate. 
Teaching Tips


  • Bonus activities, discussion questions, and background information are available in the teacher's guide.
  • Each activity presents both the problem and solutions.
  • The podcast discusses all three topics (food waste, plant-based diets, and crop varieties).

Additional Prerequisites

  • Before engaging in the lesson, students should know that there are many steps in the process that bring food from the farm to our plates.
  • Since food choices are personal or cultural, be prepared to support student conversations and feelings about differing views and perspectives.
  • Each activity should take a similar amount of time to complete and can be used independently.
  • The final activity requires access to the Internet for research.


  • Social studies classes can connect this lesson to topics such as the different diets of various cultures, why individuals may choose to be vegetarian or vegan, or the barriers to accessing certain foods in some parts of the world.
  • The lesson plan will allow teachers to differentiate and support students as they learn about food waste, plant-based eating, and crop varieties. One suggested way to do so is to divide students into groups and then allow them to choose which of these topics they explore.
  • As an extension, have students watch this video to learn more about food waste and use this online course to learn more about the impacts of agriculture on the planet.
Scientist Notes
This resource is a guide for teachers that includes skills learned, standards, core ideas, a teacher guide, student handouts, and a ~14 minute podcast (all of which discuss the causal relationship between food and climate change). The information is well sourced and researched and would be a great addition to a class discussing the different effects and causes of climate change. This resource is recommended for teaching.

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

  • Science
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-2. Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-7. Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
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