Sport and sustainability

 This chemistry topic covers the meaning of the term sustainability and what this means in terms of the carbon cycle. Watch our film and hear how sustainability experts at Land Rover BAR worked to make every aspect of the team’s operations sustainable during the 35th America's Cup.

The resources in BT STEM Crew can be used either in sequence or flexibly as an introduction to a topic, or for a quick activity. Introduce the topic of sustainability with our starter film, where team members explain how the team built a long-term sustainable business and protecting the environment. Our differentiated worksheets reinforce learning objectives for this topic.


 This film introduces sustainability in the context of the carbon cycle, and how in minimising its negative impact on the carbon cycle, Land Rover BAR is reduced their impact on the environment. On and off the water throughout the 35th America's Cup, the team worked to ensure that it was as environmentally friendly as possible.


Test students' learning with these differentiated worksheets.

Worksheet 1

11 - 14

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Worksheet 2

14 - 16 lower

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Worksheet 3

14 - 16 higher

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Practical Investigation

This practical experiment involves releasing carbon dioxide from limewater and testing it – linking to human activity, including burning of fossil fuels.

Practical Investigation: Presentation


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Practical Investigation: Lab Sheet


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Practical Investigation: Teacher Guide


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Teacher's notes


You could begin the lesson by asking students to work in small groups and sketch a simple carbon cycle. Their sketches should include the places where carbon is found, and the natural or human processes that move it. These places and processes might be in the air, at ground level, or underground. Help younger or less able pupils by writing key words to include (e.g. CO2 gas, fossil fuels, combustion, plants, respiration, decay, photosynthesis etc.). Highlight that we use fossil fuels even when it’s not obvious, e.g. to make and transport the products we use.

Suggested activity

Use an online carbon footprint calculator to explore how our energy and material use in different areas of life can contribute to our carbon emissions, e.g. at In particular, explore how our electricity use can lead to carbon emissions when it is generated from fossil fuels like natural gas.

Alternatively, ask students in advance to bring in their total electricity use for the year, in kWh (from household statements, if parents will provide this). Or, given sufficient time, students could take regular meter readings in their home to determine a daily average, and extrapolate their findings to work out a weekly, monthly and yearly estimate. Ask students to anonymously provide their yearly total in a shared spreadsheet or on the board and calculate a total for the class. Abler students could present this data as a grouped bar chart, histogram or cumulative frequency diagram, identifying ranges for each group. Using 0.527kg/kWh* calculate the total emissions per house and in total for the class.


Invite students to identify examples from Land Rover BAR that can inspire them to reduce their own carbon emissions now or in the future. Ask students to generate ideas in groups and briefly present back to the class. Groups could focus on one specific area of life, e.g. travel, heating, work, housework, leisure etc. They should explain how their idea reduces the energy or materials they use, and in turn, any carbon emissions from this activity.

Further ideas/ STEM club ideas

Students can research solar PV and other renewable sources of electricity, exploring how different forms of renewables (e.g. solar, hydro, tidal, biofuels, ground source heat etc.) can complement one another. Students could suggest which solutions are practical at national or regional level, and which might be suitable for individual buildings or homes.

Students can link to maths by monitoring their plastics use and recycling at home or in the classroom. They can create a simple spreadsheet to record plastics use and recycling by weight or number of items and track their behaviour over time. Students can set a target for reducing use and increasing recycling and track their progress, communicating their progress and success by generating simple charts or graphs. Students can present their findings to their peers, teachers and local community.


Curriculum links


KS3 NC Chemistry

Earth and atmosphere:

  • Earth as a source of limited resources and the efficacy of recycling
  • The production of carbon dioxide by human activity and the impact on climate.

GCSE Chemistry (from September 2016)AQA 8642

  • Human activities which contribute to an increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
  • The carbon footprint and its reduction
  • Atmospheric pollutants from fuels

Edexcel 1CH0

  • Describe: a, the potential effects on the climate of increased levels of carbon dioxide and methane generated by human activity, including burning fossil fuels and livestock farming and b, that these effects may be mitigated: consider scale, risk and environmental implications.

OCR J258

  • Describe how the effects of increased levels of carbon dioxide and methane may be mitigated, including consideration of scale, risk and environmental implications.


  • The environmental effects and consequences of the emission of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere through the combustion of fossil fuels.
  • The measures used to address the problems of global warming and acid rain.


KS3 Science

  • How human activity affects the global environment and the measures taken to minimise any negative effects and monitor them.
  • The properties of sustainable materials and how these are related to their uses in everyday life, and the importance of sustainability.



  • I can explain some of the processes which contribute to climate change and discuss the possible impact of atmospheric change on the survival of living things.
  • I can monitor the environment by collecting and analysing samples. I can interpret the results to inform others about levels of pollution and express a considered opinion on how science can help to protect our environment.

Scotland NQs

Level 5 unit

  • Nature’s chemistry

Higher Unit

  • Nature’s chemistry (higher)

Northern Ireland


  • Investigate the effects of pollution, for example, water, air, land, sound etc and specific measures to improve and protect the environment, for example, renewable energy, efficient use of resources and waste minimisation etc.