Education

Climate Education

5 resources for science-based climate education.

Posted Dec 22, 2020

"Supporting students today in learning about climate change and providing the opportunity to explore and consider climate solutions will increase the resilience of our society as well as our competitiveness in a green economy." —John King and Arne Duncan in a letter to president-elect Joe Biden

Climate education isn’t yet mandatory in every classroom. New Jersey was the first state to pass a law requiring climate education in every grade level, which I believe is an intelligent step forward. First Lady of New Jersey, Tammy Murphy stated, “If we don’t give children the tools to critically think about climate change and the green economy, we are being negligent. Young people are yearning for this” (Guardian, 2020). Speaking with students, I would say climate is never far from their mind, especially as it feels overwhelming and one of the most time pressing problems of our time.

The Climate Classroom

Students today are the leaders of tomorrow, especially as it relates to the climate. They need to know the science behind what is happening (for example, extreme weather events, global warming) and then begin to focus on how best to solve climate-related problems. Of course, in an ideal world, the federal government would create a mandated science-based curriculum on climate to assist with this endeavor, but in the meantime, here are five places to get started:

  • NASA Climate Change – A great site for information (climate.nasa.gov) with even a special section for younger elementary-aged students (climatekids.nasa.gov/)
  • Climate Change — The Facts – A great documentary to engage, and educate children to learn about climate change from leading figures such as Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough, as well as professors globally. (Streaming on PBS: pbs.org/video/preview-lg2584/
  • Alliance for Climate Education – Educating high school students on climate change, and inspiring them to constructive action (acespace.org/).
  • National Geographic – Climate Change Causes & Effects video is an engaging way to teach children what climate change is, and what we can do. (youtube.com/watch?v=G4H1N_yXBiA)
  • BBC Climate Change – Through 7 charts, you can visually see the change in our planet’s climate, and what countries are largely contributing to the problem (bbc.com/news/science-environment-46384067)

Of course, there is much more information on the climate from the award-winning movie, Kiss the Ground, which is narrated by Woody Harrelson to David Attenborough’s, A Life on Our Planet, which discusses our impact on the planet and what we can do. The goal is to engage students, as well as ourselves to make smart choices regarding our planet.

Saving Our Planet, Saving Ourselves

Make no mistake, climate change isn’t about saving the planet — it is about helping create a sustainable world for our children, and giving them the opportunity to own the situation too. There’s certainly no shortage of climate related problems, but this is a complex challenge with certain nations, businesses, and influential people making shortsighted climate related choices. Of course, real change has always happened from the ground up — and now is the time to help our students understand climate change more deeply, and become positive changemakers.

References

Milman, Oliver (2020). Teaching climate crisis in classrooms critical for children, top educators say. The Guardian online found at:  https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/dec/03/teaching-climate-crisis-classrooms-critical-children

Sargrad, Scott (2020). How The Biden Administration Can Focus on Education in the First 100 Days. Forbes online found at:  https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottsargrad/2020/12/17/how-the-biden-administration-can-focus-on-education-in-the-first-100-days/?sh=232a49e313e7