Teaching Climate Change? Try These Sites.

Just in time for the start of the new school year and planning your unit on climate change, we are fortunate to have as guest blogger, Louise Huffman, who has compiled a group of climate change resources especially for teachers, annotating them to make it easier for you to home in on the ones most likely to be of use to you and your students.

Louise, a retired middle school teacher, was featured in my last blog post, is a member of the Golden Apple STEM Institute faculty, and a recipient of the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in teaching.

STEM Institute Faculty with Louise Huffman (Center)

STEM Institute Faculty with Louise Huffman (Center)

Louise has also had first hand experience at ground zero for climate change, Antarctica, which she first visited as a teacher researcher in 2002-03, returning later when she worked for Andrill as Coordinator of Education and Public Outreach. Louise also chaired the International Polar Year Formal Education Subcommittee for 5 years and has presented internationally on climate science in the classroom.

~ Penny

Climate Change Resources

by Louise Huffman

As a teacher you can never have too many resources, and fortunately for us, there are some really spectacular ones on climate change science that are both free and reliable. Here are some of my favorite sites for teaching climate science, followed by sites that allow you and your students to take action and sites that offer teachers opportunities for field experience.

ANDRILL (ANtarctic geological DRILLing) is an National Science Foundation funded multi-national project that drilled rock cores off the coast of Antarctica to reconstruct the history of the Antarctic ice sheet. Some of the questions the scientists sought to answer were: how much and how fast can the ice sheet melt and how much and how fast will the melting affect sea level rise? Many resources have been created for educators and the data is public and available for use.

The ELF (Environmental Literacy with a focus on climate change) is an Earth systems approach to teaching climate change with hands-on activities. The activities are organized into units for the “spheres”: atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, hydro- and cryo- spheres, and energy as the driver of interactions within and between the spheres.

Polar Educators International (PEI)
PEI is an organization that links educators and researchers around the world and provides a platform for discussion, online webinars, and face-to-face professional development. Membership is free.

Steger Foundation: Will Steger is a polar explorer who has spent his life traveling to both polar regions by dogsled. His first hand personal witness of the melting of the ice has motivated his desire to create a foundation to provide educators with the tools and resources necessary to understand and teach climate change.

There is a great deal of misinformation available online and in the media about climate change. Where can you find evidence-based information when hearing confusing claims? How can you separate out the politics and focus only on peer-reviewed scientific results? Check out the sources below:

GlobalChange.gov is a website that synthesizes science across sectors to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change. To be knowledgeable about climate change, download their National Climate Assessment report.

Though they cover more than climate science, two others worth checking out are Skeptical Science and Union of Concerned Scientists.

Other federally funded US Science and Education Outreach Programs on Climate Change include NOAANASA (award winning climate change website), NSIDC (National Snow and Ice Data Center which has up to the minute reports of sea ice data),  and the Antarctic Environments Portal, which is intended to provide up to date scientific summaries on all the topics of current polar interest. It is actually intended to inform the Antarctic Treaty Committee’s Committee for Environmental Protection, but is written in accessible language for non-technical audiences as well.

Taking Action:

What can you and I and our students do to combat climate change? Here are some sites with great ideas:

Climate Reality Project
Turning awareness into action. This website has several videos including “Climate 101” with Bill Nye the Science Guy. It also has a video with some good news about climate change focusing on progress being made to reduce carbon emissions.

Earth’s CO2 Home Page — Both atmospheric CO2 and climate change are accelerating. Climate scientists say we have years, not decades, to stabilize CO2 and other greenhouse gases. This website has a current counter for how much CO2 is being measured in the atmosphere.

Breathing Earth — This is a real-time simulation display of CO2 emissions of every country in the world, as well as their birth and death rates.

Footprint Network Footprint Calculator — Figure out your own ecological footprint.

350.0rg — Here you’ll find climate focused campaigns, actions, and projects led from the bottom up in 188 countries.

Teacher Field Experience Opportunities:

There’s no substitute for direct experience, and these opportunities are well worth the time to apply. You could be in for the adventure of your life!

PolarTREC: Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating: This year’s application deadline is fast approaching; it’s Tuesday, 8 September 2015, 5 p.m. Alaska Daylight Time. For further information, contact PolarTREC at info@polartrec.com or give them a call at 907-474-1600. You can also use the link above to apply at the PolarTREC website.

Louise Huffman in Antarctica ... The Adventure of a Lifetime!

Louise Huffman in Antarctica … The Adventure of a Lifetime!

NOAA Teacher at Sea Program:  While applications are closed for 2015, bookmark this link and check back for the next solicitation.

Research Experiences for Teachers (RET)—National Science Foundation (NSF)—NSF funds organizations who offer RETs for teachers. There are several types and this website keeps a list of projects that are currently funded, although it also archives past programs that are no longer available but still make their resources accessible. You can also search “RET” and you will find specific institutions that offer RETs.

Students on Ice—SOI takes students, educators, historians, artists, explorers, authors, and scientists to the Arctic and Antarctic.

Have fun!

~ Louise


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