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Climate Lessons

Climate Lessons (135)

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.

The Next Generation Science Standards(NGSS) were released this week, including for the first time climate change as a concept deemed integral to K-12 science education.

The Will Steger Foundation was proud to support Minnesota's Green Ribbon Schools selection process and would like to congratulate this year's U.S. Deparment of Education's Green Ribbon Schools program finalists!

Summer Institutes_bifold

Keynotes Announced for Summer Institue for Energy Education!

Our founder and acclaimed polar explorer, Will Steger will be delivering an intimate keynote forum at Summer Institute for Energy Education accompanied by J. Drake Hamilton of Fresh Energy.  The keynote event will follow a light social hour with food and drinks.  Register today for the Institute.

"If you're not [alarmed about climate change] talk with my good friend and world-premier polar explorer, Will Steger, who is here tonight, about the drastic climate changes he has witnessed …" - Gov. Mark Dayton during 2013 State of the State Address, 2/7/2013 (transcript)

will speakingIn his speech, Governor Dayton has stepped out as a leading voice among Governors on clean energy and climate change solutions.  (If you are looking for other energy champions, check out the Energy All Stars YouTube playlist by the EPA.)

You and your students can join the action.  One easy way is through phenology observations.  Scientists are using Henry David Thoreau's and Aldo Leopold's phenology observations to investigate climate change.  Climate change strikes close to home again as Minnesota's warming winters have been attributed to changing the ecosystems and conditions conducive to life of our native Moose, whose population is declining.

If you're already doing phenology and using Minnesota's Changing Climate Curriculum, then here is a list of opportunities for you to support education and climate change solutions:

  1. Connect your classroomwith the MN climate and energy solutions conversation - Register now for one or both of our Summer Institutes!
    • Turn on your teaching with the Summer Institute for Energy Education, June 16-18
    • Dive into the classroom and outdoor components of our Minnesota's Changing Climate curriculum, August 6-7.
  2. Bring a group of students to the YEA!MN Lobby Day, Feb. 24th & 25th.  Your middle and high school students don't want to miss this:  Will Steger Foundation's Youth Environmental Activists Minnesota program (YEA! MN), along with Minnesota Youth Environmental Network (MNYEN), MN350, and the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG) have planned a pair of events coming up February 24th and 25th for youth to learn about and advocate for sustainability on a local level.  Learn more on our website.
  3. logo forwardendeavorsCheck out the New Land 2013 Expedition. John Huston is leading the educational charge in the U.S. John and two of his teammates have all traveled extensively with Will Steger. The 4-person team will travel for 72 days on Ellesmere Island. Their blog begins later this month. Also keep an eye out for the project's packet of classroom activities designed to fit a range of ages and subjects. Your class can follow their progress. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
  4. Present at the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) conference. It is October 9-12, 2013, in Baltimore, MD.  Deadline for submitting a presentation proposal is March 31, 2013.  Consider submitting a proposal about how you are integrating climate change into your classroom in the Teaching About Environmental Issues Strand.
  5. Flight Behavior Join our next virtual book club meeting with special guest, Dr. Karen Oberhauser, Monarch Butterfly researcher and source for Barbara Kingsolver's recent book Flight Behavior.  We will meet online on February 28, 4:30 PM CST.  For more information and to get on the Climate and Energy book club list hosted by ICEE.  Please contact Susan Buhr if interested.  Read Kristen's recent review of the book on our blog.
  6. Check out the Life Discovery - Doing Science conference, "Exploring Biology for a Changing World" on March 15-16, 2013 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. From the website: "A major goal of the conference is to foster communities of practice and encourage the sharing of best practices in biology education across grades."
  7. Stop by and visit WSF Education Program Staff exhibiting and presenting at the CERTS conference February 20-21, or the Minnesota Conference on Science Education February 22 and 23.  Two great opportunities we are lucky to have in our state.

*whew!* what a list.  You've got great opportunities ahead of you.  To send you off energized, here's a spirited quote from Gov. Dayton's speech: 

"I challenge this legislature to work again with our state's visionary clean energy advocates, large energy providers, large energy users, other stakeholders, and my administration to use your past achievements as springboards for Minnesota's next big leap toward a sustainable energy future."

Kristen Poppleton & John Smith
Will Steger Foundation Education Program
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it 612-27807147

Note: This is part of a regular series of posts focused on integrating literacy and climate science and energy issues. The posts are a basis for or based on discussions in the "Not So Serious Climate and Energy Book Club." The book club is sponsored through ICEE: Inspiring Climate Change Education Excellence. Book suggestions, (especially hopeful ones!) are welcome in the comments area below. 

Please join us for discussion of Flight Behavior this month!  More information below.

flight-behavior

I often joke that Barbara Kingsolver writes her books just for me. In my wandering, long-term relationship seeking 20’s I read The Bean Trees and Animal Dreams.  As I developed my awareness of politics and social justice, Small Wonder and The Poisonwood Bible came along, and when I had begun my career integrating biology, education and a love for the wilderness, Prodigal Summer was published.  Animal, Vegetable, Miracle sits on my shelf as inspiration and a reminder that I can always just make that jump off the grid if I so choose.

I have always loved Kingsolver's use of language and her ability to elicit a sigh or a "wow" with just one sentence of absolute beauty.  As she has matured as a writer, her works of fiction have become much more than just stories, but have sought to educate her readers about something.  Her commitment to this kind of fiction is demonstrated through her established of the Bellwether Prize, which was created to  "promote fiction that addresses issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships."

With her latest book Flight Behavior, Kingsolver truly outdid herself writing ME, a fiction loving climate change educator, a book of fiction about climate change.  The story is told through the eyes of Dellarobia Turnbow, a young mother with a yearning for something more from life.  Flight Behavior takes the reader to the rural southeastern United States where a strange phenomena has occurred making the Turnbow farm of national scientific interest.  Monarch butterflies, turned off their migratory course for unknown reasons, have congregated in the slated to be logged out woods above the farm and a research team of scientists led by Dr. Ovid Byron set up a lab to discover clues that might tell them why.

There are a number of directions I could take in this review.  I could spend time critiquing Kingsolver's sometimes forced, but always accurate, approach to integrating the climate science.  I could also talk about her portrayal of small town rural life which some reviewers have called patronizing, yet much of which seemed well done as I remember my former life in a small town as an environmental educator trying to make friends with "townies".  There are also pages of quotes I could list that I found so lovely my copy of the book is practically entirely underlined.  Professionally, I appreciated Flight Behavior's snapshot of the struggles climate change educators face when up against a media focused on the news cycle, an education system that often doesn't provide students with a real understanding of science and the polarization of political parties today.  What resonated most with me, however, was Kingsolver's spot on description of the grief and sensation of loss most of us in this business of climate change education, communication and science carry around daily.

Kingsolver describes this grief and loss from the perspective of scientist Ovid when he comes to the realization that the majority of monarch butterflies in North America are on the Turnbow farm and at great risk.  She writes, "The one thing most beloved to him was dying.  Not a death in the family…but maybe as serious as that.  He'd chased this life for all his years; it had brought him this distance…Now began the steps of grief.  It would pass through this world…while most people paid no attention."  Dellarobia also goes through this journey of grief as a mother becoming more aware of the impacts of climate change.  "Dellarobia felt an entirely new form of panic as she watched her son love nature so expectantly, wondering if he might be racing toward a future like some complicated sand castle that was crumbling under the tide.  She didn't know how scientists bore such knowledge.  People had to manage terrible truths."  

The management of these "terrible truths" is one of the biggest challenges I face as a climate change educator and as a parent.  In Flight Behavior I find that once again Kingsolver had written ME a book that helps me feel less alone in my grief for the changes facing our planet and that demonstrates the powerful role literature can play in bringing climate change into the public conversation.  

 

Book Club Discussion Update February 28, 2013

In our book club discussion about Flight Behavior on February 28, we were lucky enough to be joined by special guest Dr. Karen Oberhauser, Monarch Butterfly researcher and source for Kingsolver's novel.  Overall she enjoyed Flight Behavior and found that the content on monarchs was fairly accuate, minus a few inaccuracies including Kingsolver had mixed up the actual way to identify male and female monarchs.  She thought the choice of monarchs as an organism to learn about climate change was good because researchers do have a sense of how they might respond to cliamte changre and because they resonate with people as organisms.  Obserhauser also thought that Kingsolver did a fairly good job of representing the three ways that climate impacts organisms.  This includes ckaunte as a large scale habitat changer, climate as a signal and climate as a direct cause of mortality or survival.

Please join us for a discussion of Zenith at our next Climate and Energy Book Club meeting hosted by ICEE, March 28 at 4:30PM CST.    We meet online and via conference call.  To access the webinar go to:http://cires.adobeconnect.com/iceebookclub/ and sign in as a guest using your name. You may use a headset with your computer to access the audio or call +18778659544 .

 

Registration is open!

For our 2013 Summer Institutes, check out more info below:

Energy Education

Minnesota's Changing Climate

Audubon Center of the North Woods Fort Snelling State Park

Sandstone, MN
June 16-18, 2013

Turn on your teaching with the 2013 Summer Institute for Energy Education. Made possible by generous support from MN Center for Energy and the Environment, this teacher-training includes:

  • NEW Energy Curriculum: effective, useful activities and information on energy sources, uses and impacts for grades 3-8.

  • Hands-on workshops: The Audobon Center is a leader in renewable energy education and showcases a suite unique energy solutions.

  • A location second to none: gather with peers and inspired educators from around the country in peaceful, semi-rustic paine and maple forest in between lake and prairie.
Saint Paul, MN
August 6-7, 2013

Dive into the classroom and outdoor components of the Will Steger Foundation's Minnesota's Changing Climate (MCC) curriculum and online classroom. Program includes:

  • A deep introduction to climate science and the impacts of climate change in Minnesota

  • Paddling with professional Wilderness Inquiry guides and state and national park naturalists on the serene Mississippi River

  • Phenology training and weather station activities in the park that are relevant to your school ... and more!

 

 

 

 


For both institutes you will earn CEUs (and optional graduate credits) while building your expertise with top teachers and curriculum pros - and that's just the beginning.  Many scholarships are available for both of these events.  Learn more about the 2013 Summer Institutes here

Take a peak at the 2012 Summer Institute in this video:

This summer is going to be better than ever.  We're looking forward to it!

Kristen Poppleton & John Smith
Will Steger Foundation Education Programs
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
612-278-7147

 

bear0115 500px"Cold enough for ya?" Weather in 2012 was wild by any measure, giving Minnesotan's plenty easy conversation starters in the break room at work. Though the Mississippi River did not shut down from the midwest drought as feared, it is confirmed: 2012 was the warmest year on record for the United States.

And weather and climate news begin to creep into 2013, which is off to a concerning start. The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is postponed from February until March due to "snow drought". It has been cancelled only twice in it's 32 year history: 2011 and 2007.

Now, before you share your thoughts on climate change, it may be worth it to watch this interview with Anthony Leiserowitz about "Making People Care About Climate Change". Leiserowitz is the Director for the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.

A new tool for educators: The US Dept of Energy launched a new interactive webtool for educators and researchers to explore future energy scenarios. It's called BITES (Buildings, Industry, Transportation and Electricity Scenarios). It is still in beta-testing, and seems more utilitarian and wordy rather than something Steve Jobs would have built. But, hey, we can't all be Steve Jobs.

Will SI_2012Want to prepare your students for this world? Registration has now begun for the 2013 Summer Institutes, Energy Education and Minnesota's Changing Climate. Each of these two professional educator-training opportunities aim to give you the confidence and content to teach about the realities of climate change in your classroom. Included in the deal: CEUs, options for grad credit, complete copies of the curriculum and much more. Check out past Summer Institutes in this video!

Many scholarships are available if cost is a barrier to you, so don't hesitate to contact us about this.

Lastly, we look forward to seeing some of you at conferences in the next few months. WSF Education will be at the MN Science Teacher's Association's MN conference on Science Education (MNCOSE) in Duluth and the CERT's conference in St. Cloud. Stop by the booth and say hello!

Warmly,

John Smith & Kristen Poppleton
Will Steger Foundation Education Programs
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it 612-278-7147

The Earth_seen_from_Apollo_172Siiri Bigalke went to school in Minnesota, but she just returned from a trip to Doha, Qatar to participate as the WSF delegate in the COP18 international climate negotiations. As she bid farewell to COP 18 last week, she did so "With that sense of hope" to "continue to look forward to what the international community of youth climate activists will accomplish after COP18 and into the next year!" (read more from her on the WSF blog)

In the face of the tragedy last week in CT, and those that happen weekly around the world, we look to youth for hope and our teachers for leadership. That's why we do our best to get you resources, and to break down the barriers in your way to creating a more safe and just world. We believe climate literacy is significant to that vision.

Last week we launched our NEW Education Webpage! It's now easier to use. Quickly find the most-requested info in the menus at the top of the screen, such as "Curriculum Resources", "Climate Change Basics" and "Professional Development".

Did you see Chasing Ice last week? Check out this blog post for educator resources after watching Chasing Ice with your class.

Fort Snelling_1Review and comment on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The release of the final public draft of the NGSS is set for the first week in January. We encourage all interested parties to review the draft as individuals or in groups and provide feedback to the Lead States and writers. WSF has helped esnure that climate literacy has a strong place in the standards in part through our consistent participation in the Cliimate Literacy Network.

Anyone 13 years or older can submit posts and pictures to the EPA Student Blog. We're promoting it as a useful reflection tool for your classrooms or to show off a student project or learning experience. Submissions and comments are moderated by EPA staff. If interested, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

A few weeks ago Kristen spent the day sharing the Minnesota's Changing Climate curriculum with teachers that are taking part in the University of Minnesota STEM Education's CYCLES program. Teachers spent the day doing activities and learning around Minnesota's biomes and the impacts of climate change. If you are interested in a customized workshop in your education setting, please contact us

Kristen just returned from Berkeley, where she spent an invigorating weekend of strategizing with 50 other climate and energy literacy experts, hosted by the National Center for Science Education. The focus of the weekend was discussing ways of "substantially and measurably increasing climate and energy literacy." Stay tuned for a white paper and next steps.

It takes guts to be a teacher. And we thank you for all the good work you do,

John Smith

Education Assistant

Monday, October 26th, 15,000+ delegates from 195 nations gathered in Doha, Qatar for climate change negotiations and ultimately "to stabalise greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system" (sources: COP18 Website). 

This collective effort began in 1992 with the creation of the United Nations Framework Commission on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  Each year, these 195 nations gather for the Conference of Parties (or COP) to continue the implementation and evaluation of their agreements and progress.  (Here is an interactive timeline to show the complete history.)

In anticipation of the upcoming showing of Chasing Ice, we pulled together some resources that could help extend learning about climate change and ice and why it is important.  If you are interested in introducing the implications of warming in the Arctic, lesson 4 of our Grades 6-12 Global Warming 101 curriculum provides a nice overview.  If you want get a more in depth overview of the Arctic, check out our online Arctic Community Curriculum.

NEW! Free Chasing Ice App for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.  This app shows the before and after images of glaciers and frozen places captured in the film Chasing Ice by National Gographic Photographer Jim Balog. 

In the following video, taken on the Will Steger Foundation's Baffin Island expedition, Will Steger talks about glacier loss in the Arctic.

 

If you haven't seen the news about ice in Antarctica actually growing and the connection with the Arctic.  The following videos are great introductions and also offer the chance to discuss how each video introduces the issue.  Which video do you prefer?  Why?

 

 

NASA's Global Ice Viewer gives a nice overview of the status of ice around the world.

If you are taking students to Chasing Ice, ask them to write up their "elevator speech" about why understanding ice melt in the Arctic is important and share it with someone they meet at the theater!  Please share their responses with us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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