Climate Lessons (108)
Climate Lessons provides tools, resources and reflections on climate change education for educators and communicators of climate change. This blog is posted to weekly with an educator audience in mind.
An aquarium of critters is left to struggle over resources and scientific integrity. Whether you are seeking inspired conversation or simply love a good story, “Fish Tank: A Fable For Our Times” is a unique treat. Genuinely well-written, simple in language and complex in theme: this story delivers on it’s promise to be an “insightful allegory about the human condition, tackling issues of politics and power, limited resources and climate change.” Author Scott Bischke twists together a suite of characters that, while familiar in their attitudes, interactions and dialogue, remain colorful and easy to love. Each character comes to life in the fight for food in a changing planet … er … I mean aquarium. A recommended read for book groups and classrooms of any age.
Note: this particular book review is a staff pick and is not part of the “Not So Serious Climate and Energy Book Club”.
We've had a blast the last few weeks with Bloomington Lutheran and Open World Learning Community students down at Ft. Snelling State Park within the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Staff from the Mississippi River Fund, National Park Service and the Will Steger Foundation led students through activities around weather, climate and phenology and the students were able to do a buckthorn removal service project in the end. Our featured photo this month is of Bloomington Lutheran students hard at work. The field trips are funded through support from the National Park Foundation as part of the Parks Climate Challenge. See more photos and learn about the trips here.
We are happy to welcome our new education assistant, John Smith! John comes to us with a background in environmental education and most recently worked with St. Paul Schools as an energy and sustainability associate.
There are a number of great opportunities coming up in November including free public forums around Minnesota with Will Steger and J. Drake Hamilton of Fresh Energy. If you are an educator in one of the communities they are visiting and are interested in sharing any of the work you have been doing with students please send me an email.
Keep up the good work! Please don't hesitate to contact us with questions or to share how you are bringing climate change into your educational setting.
Green Schools Workshops, Presented by the Minnesota Department of Education:
These workshops will provide resources and networking for K-12 administrators, staff, teachers and anyone else interested in making schools more healthy, efficient, and effective. You will see, first-hand, the benefits of green schools and learn about resources available in the areas of green buildings and energy, health and safety, and environmental education.
Dates and locations:
Workshops will be held at Minnesota’s 2012 Green Ribbon Schools National Award Winners
Monday, October 29: St. Joseph – Kennedy Community School
Monday, November 5: West St. Paul – Garlough Environmental Magnet School
Wednesday, November 28: Duluth – North Shore Community School
Cost: None - they are FREE! Clock hour certificates available.
More information and to register.
The Not Serious Climate and Energy Bookclub
Classroom Resources and Opportunities
COP 18 will be held in Qatar and we will be following a delegation of high school students from the School of Environmental Studies that are attending. Discuss the upcoming climate negotiations with your students using our Citizen Climate lesson plans, available to download here.
Thanks to a partnership with Chasing Ice, the Will Steger Foundation will be providing complimentary tickets to see a free screening of the film for educators, youth and key partners in our network. Screenings will be held November 30 through December 4th at the Lagoon Cinema, Uptown Minneapolis. If you are an educator interested in tickets for yourself or your class, please contact me. More information.
News of Note
Just Released from the National Academies of Sciences- Climate Change Education in Formal Settings, K-14.
Frontline will explore the shift in public opinion on climate change tonight on PBS.
Note: This is the fourth in a monthly series of posts focused on integrating literacy and climate science and energy issues. The posts are based on discussions in the "Not So Serious Climate and Energy Book Club," last Friday. The book club evolved out of some informal virtual discussions between a number of us involved in climate and energy education around the country and is sponsored through ICEE: Inspiring Climate Change Education Excellence in Boulder, Colorado. Book suggestions, (especially hopeful ones!) are welcome in the comments area below.
Our last two book club books represent two different genres- a dystopian young adult novel and a comprehensive non-fiction book focusing on climate change and energy.
Empty by Suzanne Weyn, takes place in the not so distant future when oil prices are skyrocketing and extreme weather is the norm. The main character is a scrappy, resilient young woman, with your typical high school angst, but also some pretty serious problems at home. The novel offers some great opportunities to discuss our dependence on oil, as well as the solutions and alternatives that exist. The book does end on a hopeful note which is nice, however it feels a bit forced and unbelievable. A good read for middle school and maybe high school- it offers some possibilities for looking more deeply into some of the science raised.
Earth- The Operators Manual, by Richard Alley, was developed as a companion to the PBS documentary. The book is comprehensive, but dense and might not be accessible in its entirety to most high school audiences. That is not to say it isn't an important book and a great read for teachers teaching about climate change. In the book Alley provides an overview of the history of humans and energy, the evidence for climate change, and alternative energy options. In our discussion Chapter 15 and 16 were raised as important and possible pull out readings for students. A great resource and companion to the books is a series of videos developed by Alley that are great resources for the classroom. They can be accessed here.
Hello Educators and Education Partners!
It is hard to believe September is almost over. We hope you have had a fantastic month back and the school rhythm has begun to settle in. We were sad to bid farewell to Ann Benson, our fantastic Education Assistant, at the end of August. Ann was a great asset to our program and hard to replace, but we have been busy interviewing candidates for the position the last few weeks. Stay tuned for a new face in the next month!
The online classroom has been busily filling up with observations and photos of the changes going on in our backyards around the state. Ask your students to stop in and see what others are seeing and make a comment or two on their posts.
Please visit our summary of the Summer Institute for Climate Change Education 2012. We have some great videos of key presentations and power points to download from all of the presentators.
As the school year kicks off there are a number of great opportunities. Please feel free to share with us any updates from your classroom or educational setting. We would love to include them in future updates.
Looking for a few extra Graduate Credits? Sign up for, Overcoming Climate Change Misconceptions in the Classroom, a 2 credit Hamline University course taught online and Will Steger Foundation Director of Education, Kristen Poppleton. The course starts October 31, 2012.
Register Now for Teaching Outside the Box: An Introduction to Integrating Environmental and Outdoor Education in Grades K-12, Saturday, September 29: Sandstone – Audubon Center for the North Woods. More information.
Classroom Resources and Opportunities
Hey Teachers! Bring Tolby into your Classroom. Tolby is the kid friendly energy efficient mascot of the Minnesota Energy Challenge, an energy efficiency education program. The Minnesota Energy Challenge offers many free resources to bring Tolby to your classroom, such as a presentation from Emma, the Energy Challenge coordinator, informational handouts, plug meters, pencils and temporary tattoos. Tolby shows students how saving energy is important and fun at the same time. Through Tolby, students learn various ways they can save energy at school and at home. This program also teaches the basics of where electricity comes from and how its use affects the environment.
Using Tolby as a guide we teach kids about the importance of saving energy in an entertaining style. Presentations are interactive, energetic and include a visit from the Tolby mascot! He also has his own “For Kids” page on the MN Energy Challenge site where there are family focused energy saving actions, and links to kid centered energy websites. Tolby even has his own Blog that students can follow.
News of Note
Note: This is the third in a monthly series of posts focused on integrating literacy and climate science and energy issues. The posts are based on discussions in the "Not So Serious Climate and Energy Book Club," last Friday. The book club evolved out of some informal virtual discussions between a number of us involved in climate and energy education around the country and is sponsored through ICEE: Inspiring Climate Change Education Excellence in Boulder, Colorado. Book suggestions, (especially hopeful ones!) are welcome in the comments area below.
This month's read was the book Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi. Set in the future, Ship Breaker takes place in a world that has been besieged by the impacts of climate change. New Orleans I and New Orleans II are underwater and frequent intense storms (called city killers) are a part of daily life. Oil is scarce and there is a huge segregation between the classes. The main character, Nailer, works as part of crew scavenging for copper wiring on grounded oil tankers- a dangerous and dirty job, but the only real job available for his social class. Nailer's life changes when he rescues a girl from the highest social class from a ship wreck and they travel up the Gulf Coast in search of people who will take her to safety.
One thing lacking in this book was a very deep discussion of the science and climate themes. One educator suggested this could be made up by asking students to come up with their own ways to incorporate the science into the book. We thought that the book would work well as read aloud book in eighth grade science, although one teacher said she would read it in her fifth grade class. Important themes include; sea level rise, extreme weather, segregation between the classes, climate change as as an issue of the elite, how we recycle and reuse things, and the idea of science and engineering as creative processes.
Activities and supplementary information that may be useful in tandem with this book
Note: This is the second in a monthly series of posts focused on integrating literacy and climate science and energy issues. The posts are based on discussions in the "Not So Serious Climate and Energy Book Club," last Friday. The book club evolved out of some informal virtual discussions between a number of us involved in climate and energy education around the country and is sponsored through ICEE: Inspiring Climate Change Education Excellence in Boulder, Colorado. Book suggestions, (especially hopeful ones!) are welcome in the comments area below.
This month's featured book is The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. The book is non-fiction and comes in "chapter book" form suitable for middle school on up and young readers form suitable for Pre-K on up. William's story is beautifully written and inspiring (in both formats) and details his life growing up Malawi facing the challenges of poverty and drought. William overcomes these problems by designing and building a windmill to provide electricity and running water to his village. The windmill creation is based on his reading of old science textbooks and his ability to figure out how to replace the parts he reads about with scrap metal, tractor parts, and bicycle frames.
In this month's discussion of the book, themes emerged including; how much William values and craves education; engineering innovation and the power of turning simple, common materials in something useful and lifesaving; cross-cultural connections and the description of life in a small Malawi village; and most importantly,as our book club host Susan Buhr pointed out, the fact that one person does matter, especially in terms of social systems.
Some suggestions from the group on how to integrate the book into a classroom situation included:
-Reading the young children's version and assigning chapters from the older version that focused more on the design of the windmill and the thought process that went into its creation.
-Watching the TEDtalk William Kamkwamba gave
-Reading the book Galimoto to discuss engineering and making complex things from common materials.
-Reading about and watching the story of a nine year old boy who built a games arcade out of cardboard boxes.
The next book club meeting to discuss Ship Breaker by Paolo Baccigaluppi will be July 27 Friday, 12:30 PT/1:30 MT/2:30 CT/3:30 ET. To learn more about the book club join the ICEE forum.
An article in the Star Tribune this week discussed the recent flooding in Duluth and the fact that "Duluth is maybe in the firstwave of cities to adapt to climate change," said University of Minnesota Extension climatologist Mark Seeley. The article is nice starting point for a discussion about adaptation to climate change, the role of city planners and the real and practical need to encourage students with engineering knowledge and skills.
Read the Star Tribune article here.
For more on the Storm and the role of climate change, visit Climate Central.
For teaching resources around Extreme Weather, please visit our Extreme Weather 101 page.
I took part in the first "Not So Serious Climate and Energy Book Club," last Friday. The book club evolved out of some informal virtual discussions between a number of us involved inclimate and energy education around the country and is sponsored through ICEE: Inspiring Climate Change Education Excellence in Boulder, Colorado. The number one goal of the group is to have fun and get together (virtually) with other readers. Many of the books we have discussed reading are in the dystopian young adult genre- think Hunger Games, but we are also looking for stories with a more hopeful focus. Suggestions are welcome in the comments area below!
Our first book for discussion was, The Carbon Diaries 2015. As the title indicates, the story takes place 3 years from now in the UK. The main character is an angsty, teen girl who is a member of a punk rock band, has an annoying older sister and parents with marital issues. Sounds typical, except that a major "storm" as raised the alarm about the impacts of climate change and the UK has instituted carbon and later water rationing. The book gives a lot of opportuntity for discussion and reflection about what the future might hold and also offers an interesting way for students to connect with some of these issues in a fictional format.
We are happy to announce that Minnesota's Changing Climate received the Environmental Education Award at the 2012 Environmental Initiative Awards! Thanks to all of our partners who made this work possible!
As the school year is winding down and you are looking back on all you have accomplished this year, please share your thoughts on Minnesota's Changing Climate with us by taking our brief survey. This is your last chance to share feedback before the new edition is finalized. Thank you so much to those who have already shared their thoughts!
The first public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards became available last week and we were happy to see the inclusion of climate change as a core idea. Read more.
Duluth News Tribune published Kristen Poppleton's response to Congressman Chip Cravaack's amendment to cut funding for the National Science Foundation's Climate Change Education Program.
Thanks for all your great work!
Kristen and Ann
Last week the first public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards became available on-line. The new standards lean heavily on the Framework for K-12 Science Education, released a few months ago by the National Academies Press. The standards were written for a number of reasons including, the fact that the last science standards were released in 1996 and understanding around learning and science has changed substantially since then. There was also a recognition that the last national standards included too many disconnected topics, not treated in enough depth. Instead the Next Generation Standards pull out a smaller number of core ideas structured in four strands; Earth Space, Physical Science, Life Science and Engineering
The core ideas were chosen because they:
- have broad importance across multiple science or engineering disciplines or are a key organizing concept of a single discipline
- provide a key tool for understanding to investigating more complex ideas and solving problems
- relate to the interests and life experiences of students or can be connected to societal or personal concerns that require scientific or technical knowledge
- is teachable and learnable over multiple grades at increasing levels of depth and sophistication
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Minnesota's Changing Climate Classroom
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