The Earthrise discussion guide offers suggestions for exploring the 30-minute film Earthrise in instructional contexts. It provides strategies and techniques to inspire inquiry and reflection as well as challenge students’ perspectives. Students consider the story of the Earthrise photograph and the perspective it provided to the Apollo 8 astronauts and to the world. The photograph inspired the environmental movement and is one of the most iconic and widely reproduced images in history. 

Could the Earthrise photograph, 50 years later, become a symbol of remembrance that unites us? Could the image act as a catalyst, enabling us to see our planet as one ecosystem? These questions are explored in this guide and students will be encouraged to think about their own place in the world and what it truly means to be a global citizen.


The following three themes represent various powers of perspective—from the Apollo 8 astronauts, the world-at-large, both in 1968 and today, and insights that students can draw upon as they consider their values in a shifting world.

Bearing Witness

As the three astronauts in the film demonstrate, the simple act of seeing can have powerful consequences both in their own experiences as well as on others.


Human beings have always explored the world, and themselves, through traveling beyond what’s familiar, facing the dangers and challenges of the unknown.

Reverence for the environment

The Apollo 8 astronauts left the Earth to conduct the first lunar orbit. The Earthrise photograph was taken on this mission, spearheading the environmental movement and creating a renewed reverence for the planet.

Who it's for

The Earthrise discussion guide is designed for educators working with middle school, high school or college-level students, as well as for those working in non-traditional educational institutions, including museums and communities. It can also be adapted for elementary use. The guide is suitable for use in a wide range of courses and subjects, including but not limited to art, English language arts, ecology, engineering, environmental science, geography, history, literature, media studies, leadership, philosophy, social science, sociology, and space exploration.

High school students view Earthrise during a school sustainability event.

How to use it

Use the guide, accompanied by the experiential power of film and storytelling, to enhance your educational environment. The guide’s opening activity can be used to set the stage to introduce students to the concept of perspective and the Earthrise photograph. Use the guide in its entirety or choose themes that are most relevant for your students and curriculum. Select questions, activities, and reflections from throughout the guide that best fit your instructional goals. Educators can use the film and guide as an opportunity to promote empathy, deepen student learning, and discuss the importance of being open to new ways of thinking and points of view.

What is included

The Earthise discussion guide includes the following:

  • Detailed biographies of the Apollo 8 astronauts
  • Historical information on 1968, the Apollo 8 mission, and the Earthrise photograph
  • Discussion questions, reflective writing prompts, and conversation cards
  • Facilitation ideas to promote thoughtful discussions
  • Action and research project ideas
  • Teacher support materials, including student worksheets
  • Curricular connections, national standards, and additional resources

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Earthrise Discussion Guide

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