Ann Benson, Education Program Assistant
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
Happy Spring! As many of you plan action projects this spring, share your plans with us! As always, feel free to contact us with any questions.
New City School submitted this creative PSA for the Parks Climate Challenge:
Last week, the first White House Summit on Environmental Education was held. Read Richard Louv's reflections on this event and the importance of environmental literacy.
Spring is finally upon us! It's a perfect time to get your class outside with their journals and make some observations as Minnesota "wakes up." It is maple syrup time and we wanted to share this video about how the industry is changing that we came upon a few weeks back.
Last week, Will Steger visited Hawley Elementary and Hawley High School to speak with students about his adventures and what the Hawley students have been learning about climate change. First, he met with a third grade class that has been participating in our Minnesota's Changing Climate project. The students were all very excited to meet Will and asked many questions about his expeditions, the effects of climate change on their region and climate change solutions. WDAY news in Fargo featured a great piece on this classroom visit. Will then gave a presentation to Hawley High School as well as members of the public. Students saw the impacts of climate change that Will has experienced firsthand and heard interesting tales from his expeditions. These students also asked a range of questions including how Will stayed motivated when facing such odds. Will responded that it was always his determination and drive that kept him going during difficult circumstances. This visit was a wonderful opportunity to visit a different region of the state and share Will's stories and knowledge with another group of students. Thanks to our wonderful hosts!
Happy New Year! Launching Minnesota’s Changing Climate was a highlight of 2011 and we are excited about continuing to expand this program in 2012.
Parks Climate Challenge schools are continuing to create excellent PSAs. Check out this great work from Bloomington Lutheran School:
We are still accepting proposals for Parks Climate Challenge mini grants, so feel free to continue working on your applications. Let us know if you would like to discuss ideas for your project or have any questions.
We had another fantastic day of school visits with Will Steger on November 18 when we visited Roseville Area Middle School and MetroTech Career Academy. During each visit, students presented the work that they have been doing with the Minnesota's Changing Climate curriculum and Will spoke to large groups of students. Read more about the November 18 visits.
On November 18, Will Steger's second day of school visits started at Roseville Area Middle School where Will gave presentations on his experiences in the Arctic and the impacts of climate change to two groups of eighth graders. Since Roseville Area Middle School is a participant in the Parks Climate Challenge program, each presentation began by showing the top public service announcements that students had created about the Mississippi River. It was fun to see these informative and creative videos. Will then spoke to students and answered many of their thoughtful questions. Students were very interested in Will's experiences on expeditions as well as the changes that he had observed over the years.
Next, we went to MetroTech Career Academy where Will met with the environmental science class and environmental club as a small group and then spoke to the whole high school. In the small group meeting, students presented the action projects that they had been working on to find solutions to a variety of environmental issues as a part of the Minnesota's Changing Climate curriculum. Students and staff at MetroTech had also completed a survey assessing their carbon footprint, what they already do to engage in solutions, what are barriers to more action and what they will do differently in the future. They had gathered some excellent data, and it was exciting to see the wonderful ideas that these students had for their action plans!
Thanks again to our fantastic hosts, and we look forward to seeing more examples throughout this year of what students are creating as part of our Minnesota's Changing Climate program!
On November 10, Will Steger visited two metro area schools and spoke to them about his experiences in the Arctic, the importance of observation and keeping journals and the effects of climate change. The first visit was to Crosby Farm Park with middle school students from Friends School of Minnesota. Students did tree coring and sampling at different sites in the park to collect data about the trees in the area. Friends School of Minnesota visits this site monthly to collect a variety of data throughout the year. They have been doing this program for over 10 years, which gives students the opportunity to learn about the importance of longitudinal data. It will be an excellent opportunity for these students to compare their data with this previously collected data at the end of the year. At Salem Hills Elementary, Will spoke to a third grade class, answered their questions and took them outside to write in the journals that they have been keeping this year. It was wonderful to see students collecting data, observing outdoors and exploring their environment just as Will did when he was young. Students were very familiar with Will and his work, and it was exciting to see the work that students have done and are continuing to do with the Minnesota's Changing Climate curriculum and online classroom.
Thanks to our wonderful hosts and we are looking forward to more school visits with Will this year!
Will Steger’s school visits will begin next week with visits to Friends School of Minnesota and Salem Hills Elementary. Later this month, he will be visiting Roseville Middle School and MetroTech Career Academy. We are looking forward to these visits and will be posting about them on this Climate Lessons blog.
There have been 3 grant applications submitted from our Parks Climate Challenge Cohort, which have been great to see. We are excited to read the others!
There have been a couple recent articles examining effective climate change communication and teaching. One very interesting paper examines the personality types of Ph.D. climate researchers as well as the general public. It finds that the personality types of climate researchers differ from those of the general public, which has interesting implications for effective climate change communication strategies. Another recent article describes the importance of hands-on activities in teaching about climate change. Hands-on activities allow students to discover the impacts of climate change for themselves rather than just reading about them, which leads to a deeper understanding.
A Sense of Where You Are: Science and Knowing on the Mississippi River, Pat Nunnally, River Life Program Coordinator
Pat Nunnally will explore the Mississippi River, what we know about it and what it means on Wednesday November 9, 2011 at Aster Café in Minneapolis.
CERTs Seed Grants
The 2012 CERTs Seed Grants have been released, which support community-based clean energy projects. They are looking for projects that inspire other community groups to take action and provide models that can be replicated. Past funding has gone to projects in schools. For more information: http://www.cleanenergyresourceteams.org/rfp
Application deadline: November 15, 2011
Youth Garden Grants
The National Gardening Association is continuing its Youth Garden Grants program, which provides Home Depot gift cards to schools and community organizations who plan to garden with young people. For more information: http://www.kidsgardening.org/grants/2012-youth-garden-grants-1
Application Deadline: November 28, 2011
Great American Can Roundup
Join the Great American Can Roundup and win prizes for being one of the schools that collects and recycles the most aluminum cans. For more information: http://www.cancentral.com/roundup/
Project Saving Species
Collect cell phones for recycling to help save gorilla habitat. If your school collects the most phones, you can win up to $5,000. For more information: http://cincinnatizoo.org/savingspecies/
More Funding Suggestions
The Children & Nature Network provides suggestions about how to get funding for taking your students outside: http://www.seek.state.mn.us/article.cfm?id=5779
April 2012 is the Children & Nature Newtork’s Let’s Get Outside month. Start planning an outdoor April event with your students to join the movement. This would also be a great opportunity for an action project with your students.
Keep up the good work!
Last week, Education Program Manager, Kristen Poppleton, Media Development Director, Jerry Stenger and I spent the day conducting interviews with 3 University of Minnesota professors, which will be included in the online classroom portion of our Minnesota’s Changing Climate project funded through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. Our goal is to provide students with examples of current research being conducted to study climate change throughout Minnesota’s biomes. It was incredibly interesting to speak with these experts and hear firsthand about their current projects and what they have already learned.
Our first interview was with Dr. Jennifer Powers, Assistant Professor in the Plant Biology and Ecology, Evolution and Behavior departments. Her current research in Minnesota examines the prairie’s responses to predicted climate warming. This is the first study in which the vegetation is being directly manipulated, through infrared heat lamps directly over the study plots, at 2 levels of warming. The plots also contain different combinations and types of prairie plant species in order to evaluate whether the effects of warming depend on the types of species present. This research will help evaluate how different global change drivers will affect the prairie biome in order to determine how to best manage the existing prairie fragments. Near the conclusion of her interview, Dr. Powers stated that learning how ecosystems respond to climate change is one of the greatest challenges that 21st century scientists face.
Our next interview was with Dr. Lee Frelich, Director of the Center for Forest Ecology, who spoke to us about his research in Minnesota’s boreal forest, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. His research focuses on climate change, disturbances and invasive species. Dr. Frelich emphasized that climate has an important impact on the frequency of forest fires and wind storms as well as the presence of invasive species, so it is important to study these 3 elements together. One of Dr. Frelich’s current studies involves a plot at Hegman Lake in the BWCA where every tree was mapped 10 years ago, which allows him to follow the composition and growth of the forest over time. One observation is that red maple, a deciduous forest species, has been invading the area and increasing in abundance. This means that the coniferous species will have to compete with these new species for a place in the forest in the future. Minnesota’s boreal forest is the biome that will probably leave Minnesota in a warmer climate and bring the plant and animal species found there with it.
Lastly, we interviewed Dr. Sue Galatowitsch, Professor of Restoration Ecology. She began studying climate change in Minnesota because she was interested to find out what would occur in this highly fragmented landscape, where much of the land has become farms or cities, in the middle of a continent. She also wanted to determine what conditions ecosystems in Minnesota would face in the future. Thus, she became involved with the first climate change projections for the state of Minnesota, which predicted a 3°C rise in temperature over the next 30 years. An overall drier climate was also predicted, which would be a climate similar to that of southern Iowa, near the Nebraska border. Based on these projections, it is very likely that the current deciduous forest biome in Minnesota will become prairie in the future. Dr. Galatowitsch stated that it is important for ecosystems to have as many species as possible to make them more resilient in the face of coming changes.
This is just a preview of what was discussed in these extremely informative and engaging interviews. All the information will be integrated into our new online classroom that we are excited to introduce along with our new curriculum resources at the 2011 Summer Institute. Find more information and apply today on our website!
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