Contributed by Jenalyn S. Aquino – Luakan National High School, Dinalupihan, Bataan
Many science teachers are very willing to teach climate change to younger students, but they don’t know where to start. This is particularly challenging for K to 12 educators, who feel that the material may be too challenging for their students, or even too frightening. However, it is also delighting to know that many teachers are very well-versed on how to discuss climate change to their students.
We must teach children how to help the human race at present and the future generations. This is why we must teach about our changing climate. The data is readily available; we know Earth is warming. If children understand why, they can begin working towards slowing down the effects. I think teachers really can make a difference.
How should a teacher not only of science but even teachers of other subjects approach this subject with their students?
Many teachers approach climate change through the Earth’s Systems. When children understand that the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere all interact with each other, it makes sense to them that there will be some sort of reaction when people put large amounts of carbon dioxide into the air over an extended period of time. Many students are old enough to understand chain reactions. If we’re altering the chemistry of the atmosphere, inevitably there will be some sort of effect on the way the atmosphere behaves. This will become a force to effect changes in the other systems.
Many teachers work with students who are very sensitive or easily got nervous. How should they approach climate change without causing fear or despair?
Majority of science teachers say that “I’m very careful not to overwhelm them. As with teaching “Stranger Danger,” the information about global warming is too important to withhold from them. However, it can be scary if it leaves them feeling helpless and vulnerable. The solution is to empower them. They should learn what to do to help slow down climate change. They should understand that they can begin taking action now. Hence, students would be keen to recycle, reduce their electricity use, and look for ways to conserve.
They should also understand that if they disseminate what they’ve learned, they can have an even greater impact. Students have found their climate change reading and classroom activities compelling because they recognize global warming is an authentic issue. They’re ready to take bold action.
There are some activities or online videos that teachers can particularly recommend like The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming by Laurie David and Cambria Gordon. This is an excellent book for fifth- and sixth-graders and also for grades 7-10. Students will find it interesting, and it’s at an appropriate reading level. They will appreciate the humorous writing style, and the use of non-fictional structures makes it an engaging text and a good model for discussion. There’s a blossoming number of climate change websites as well, but few are appropriate for children.
So teachers let us include the teaching of climate change to our lesson in any subject as time and situation allow.
M.Berbeco Climate Change Education. National Center for Science. (2014)