Young Voices for the Planet Film Series

Young people can play an essential role in catalyzing society to reduce CO2 emissions and address climate change. The short Young Voices for the Planet documentaries present inspiring and uplifting success stories of youth, age 9-17, taking action and finding solutions to the global warming crisis. Authentic and positive, they dispel fears and denial, enabling kids and adults alike to accept climate science and realize that they can help. The main determinant of someone’s taking action is their belief that they CAN SUCCEED. The YVFP films have proven effective in developing “self-efficacy”—the belief in one’s ability to make change in one’s own life and the world at large. The films are great tools to spark questions, define problems, develop and use models, plan and carry out investigations, analyze and interpret data, use math and science information, computer technology and computational thinking, construct explanations, design solutions and engage in argument from evidence. Teaching modules help students replicate the projects in the films or develop and implement their own. The films have helped change the pedagogy of climate education from doom and gloom to hope and action. If widely replicated they can significantly reduce global warming gases.

  • Kids vs. Global Warming

    Learn about climate change from 12-year-old Alec Loorz and see how young people can make a difference. Alec educates local officials about climate change and even addresses Congress advocating climate action. Alec’s passion will help other young people to speak out publicly themselves. He models how to create a concise “elevator speech” about climate change and to imagine solutions – a template for other youth to follow.

    Grades: 4-8
  • Girl Scouts

    These girl scouts, who are concerned about climate change, are part of the solution by giving out energy efficient light bulbs door to door. Your students can research the different kinds of light bulbs and compare the cost and the amount of energy they each use. Calculate how much energy would be saved if everyone in your school used energy efficient bulbs. Can your students help to educate others about how much money and energy people could save in their school and at home by changing bulbs?

    Grades: 4-8
  • Dreaming in Green

    Learn how to reduce your carbon footprint and save money! The four girls in “The Green Team” learn about how different forms of energy are all linked and how the release of fossil energy leads to climate change. They also realize the financial impact of climate-induced sea level rise. Of all the coastal cities in the world, Miami will suffer the greatest economic loss. Like the “Green Team” your students can conduct an energy audit to reduce Carbon emissions and save money. 

    Grades: 4-8
  • Plant for the Planet

    11-year-old Felix Finkbeiner from Germany, inspired by Wangari Maathai, plants millions of trees. We learn from him how trees take up CO2 and help mitigate climate change. Students can research which tree species take up the most CO2. They can also calculate how much a tree takes up as it grows by measuring the circumference of its trunk. Plant trees in your schoolyard and community and track the growth of each tree (height and trunk diameter DBH) for an LTER (Long Term Research project) and carbon sequestration over time.

    Grades: 4-8
  • Longing for a Local Lunch

    Four high school students surmount many hurdles to create a robust, nutritious, healthy school lunch with food from their school garden and local community partners. Like them, your students can research the nutrition content of local food versus food shipped long distances, fresh food versus processed food. They can identify local partners to help them get fresh local produce in their school. And they can calculate the “food miles” of food shipped from a distance and estimate the amount of CO2 that is being generated from their school lunch.

    Grades: 4-8
  • Olivia's Birds and the Oil Spill

    Olivia Bouler, an artist and a bird-lover, becomes aware of the BP oil spill off the Gulf coast and is disconsolate. But she comes up with the idea to offer her bird paintings for sale to raise money for Audubon’s efforts to clean the oiled birds. To everyone’s surprise, she raises $200,000. Olivia says, “You don’t have to do what I did, but everything that you do...COUNTS!” Teachers can help students to realize that they can do good using their individual talents and gifts that everyone has. From her understanding of the connection between using fossil fuels and environmental degradation, Olivia goes on to speak to her congressmen about supporting clean renewable energy—a good lesson for youth nationwide.

    Grades: 4-8
  • Green Ambassadors

    “Green Ambassador” Carolina Parra, describes types of energy – oil, coal and natural gas – and how their CO2 emissions cause global warming. Be inspired by seeing how the Green Ambassadors green their school through composting, planting trees, and recycling. They start a “Clean Plate Club” and a “Clean Canteen” project, and educate younger children about renewable energy solutions.

    Grades: 4-8
  • Team Marine

    The “Team Marine” students come to understand the effects of plastic bags and other plastic debris on the environment and sea life. Their solution is to try to ban plastic bags and they use humor and data to bolster their arguments to the decision-makers. Children will learn that they, too, have the power to the change regulations in their town and they learn the mechanics of doing so. Cooperate with a local environmental group to show the Team Marine film and mount a campaign to reduce plastic in your community.

    Grades: 4-8
  • We Sing Out!

    “We Sing Out!” focuses on music’s special significance in learning and the power of music and song to emotionally move and inspire people and movements. The Rivertown Kids write their own lyrics to a song called “We Sing Out!” about how they are “only kids” but they have a voice. The film’s lyrics and accompanying lessons put the current need to address climate change in a historical context of successful social change. Music has played an important role in building movements throughout history. For instance, it was Pete Seeger who taught Martin Luther King “We Shall Overcome” which became the theme song of the civil rights movement. Inspired by the Rivertown Kids, students will write their own songs in preparation for performing them in a school assembly and at town meeting and other public events.

    Grades: 4-8
  • Save Tomorrow

    After watching the Young Voices for the Planet films, three 9-year-old girls from Lexington, Massachusetts realize that, as children, they might be able to make a difference, too. After watching the other YVFP films, have students identify what they would like to change in their communities or the world at large and brainstorm about solutions and actions.

    Grades: 4-8