Teaching the Climate Crisis

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 A 2019 NPR/Ipsos poll shows that 80% of parents wish that schools taught climate change. And even more teachers, 86%, agreed that climate change should be taught in schools. National Science Teachers Association recently issued a position statement “calling for greater support for science educators in teaching evidence-based science, including climate science and climate change.

There are many challenges to teaching about the climate crisis. In some places, it’s political and highly charged. But students are demanding climate change education. 2019 was considered the year of the “climate strike,” with student-led, huge climate demonstrations, and the movement continues to grow. Looking at signs from these events, it’s clear that many students have climate anxiety and stress and feel that they have little power. “About three-quarters of young people felt that the “future is frightening;” about half said that they experienced climate anxiety to a degree that affected their daily lives; and about a quarter indicated fear about having children due to the climate crisis.”

Teaching Resources

The Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) is a great resource for materials for teaching about the climate crisis. We’ve looked at some of the lessons and resources and recommend the ones below:

The National Council for Science Education (NCSE) also has climate change resources. Their mission is “We give science teachers the tools and skills they need to help their students overcome misconceptions and misinformation about climate change and evolution. ”They have many climate change resources, Teaching Ambassadors, and lessons including those below.

This is a  teacher-friendly guide about climate change that you can download

If you want to delve further into the emotions that some of your students may have about the climate crisis, read this blog by the author of “Gen Dread.”

To counter young peoples’ feeling of helplessness in the face of climate change, the Climate Initiative, a grassroots movement, aims to empower young people to be agents of change.

NPR gives ideas for teaching climate change in the classroom. If graphs can help, here are some.

Green Ninja has many resources about climate change for upper elementary and middle school students.

NASA has resources for explaining climate science with games, activities and videos.

Some students have created their own  podcasts about climate change.

Edutopoia has examples and resources about teaching the climate crisis across disciplines.

This fun and sophisticated interactive lets high school students, and older, understand the possible solutions to the climate crisis by simulating solutions.

NOAA has a lesson plan about responding to climate change.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute has a toolkit on ocean acidification.

From Yale Climate Communications resources about communicating about climate change and basic information.

Shape of Life has several climate crisis lessons.

Lesson Plans

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    Lesson Plan

    “There are seven principles of ocean literacy including: the ocean is a major influence on weather and climate; and the ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.  The Ocean Mysteries Curriculum makes it easy to teach the seven principles while meeting NGSS, Common Core and Climate Literacy Standards.”

    Go To Resource

    Full Lesson Plan

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    Lesson Plan
    Save Our Coral Reefs

    Using this tool, students will practice and deepen their understanding of coral reef basics, what is contributing to their loss, and what is being done to preserve this resource

    Full Lesson Plan

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    Lesson Plan
    Carbonated Communities

    Through cutting-edge scientific research, students are introduced to climate change’s effects on the intertidal (ocean acidification and temperature increase) and what is known about how ocean organisms are impacted.

    Full Lesson Plan

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    Lesson Plan
    Carbon Cafe

    In this lesson students learn about the effects of different diets and foods on our Climate Crisis and how to make positive changes

    Full Lesson Plan

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    Lesson Plan
    What's the bigger picture

    In this lesson, students combine art and science to interpret and illustrate graphical art. In this way, students will building understanding of the power of data infused art to convey the "bigger picture" of climate change. 

    "Hot issues such as climate change may not be the subjects of contention within the scientific community, but it seems clear that the science is not being communicated in a way that has the necessary impact. Although art cannot directly communicate science or change minds, it can create a space for dialogue around difficult issues" - Kieniewicz

    Full Lesson Plan