What do you think of when you hear the word stewardship? For NOAA Climate Stewards Project (CSEP) educators it means putting their knowledge of climate science into action and engaging their students and communities in hands-on activities focused on mitigating or adapting to the impacts of climate change.
Over 900 educators across the United States participate in CSEP which provides professional development in climate science and pedagogy through web seminars, discussion groups, conference symposia and workshops. Educators work in small peer groups to develop and refine stewardship projects proposals through discussion, reflection, and review. Support for projects is provided through a competitive mini-grant process.
The following articles were published in the National Earth Science Teacher’s Association’s publication The Earth Scientist. They reflect the enthusiasm, hard work and success of NOAA CSEP educators, their students and communities. Some articles have links to teacher background materials, supporting materials, and student worksheets you can download, adapt, and use for yourself.
We hope you enjoy these articles and consider incorporating the innovative ideas and resources into your own classroom or education setting.If you’d like to advantage of the opportunities afforded by NOAA Climate Stewards, and join a national community of educators working to increase climate literacy and taking action on climate change, come to our web site and sign up today!
A Climate Stewards Club was established as an after school high school program to empower young women as community leaders who would be then both willing and capable of addressing their peers and the public about issues related to global climate change. The student club identified the need to support climate literacy in the middle school by providing opportunities for learners to engage in hands-on activities that assist student understanding of how Earth’s climate system works. The students and their mentor developed an engaging, hands-on lesson that allows students to learn about the feedback loop that describes the ice-albedo effect. The process of how a team of high school students developed the lesson and associated materials is described.The outcomes of this peer-facilitated lesson as well as the benefits of the after school club focused on climate stewardship are discussed.
About the Authors
Natalie Macke has been a secondary science teacher for more than 15 years in New Jersey. In 2012 her selection for participation in the NOAA Climate Stewards Education Project prompted her to establish a girl’s STEM club focusing on Climate Stewardship at Pascack Hills High School. In addition, she developed a fifteen-week honors-level course on Climate Change offered by the Virtual High School (http://thevhscollaborative.org/). In 2015 she was the recipient of the Princeton Distinguished Secondary Teaching Award.
Ilana Char, Samyukta Mahendra Kumar, Brittany Hudson, Ako Matsumura and Sahiba Sikand are all students at Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, New Jersey. These young ladies have been members of their school’s Climate Stewards club since 2013 and are responsible for the development and implementation of the middle school lesson shared in this article about Earth’s Changing Albedo. They will all graduate in 2016 and may be reached via their teacher, Natalie Macke.
Pickering Creek Audubon Center of Easton, Maryland, developed and tested an introductory science unit on global climate change in six, fifth grade classes. Through a series of lessons, students progressed through the topics of carbon, the carbon cycle, greenhouse gases, and climate change. Students learned how our actions affect the global climate, how climate change impacts local habitats and wildlife, and how we can slow the effects of climate change by decreasing our carbon source intake while increasing the planet’s carbon sinks. Common climate change myths and misconceptions were addressed, and opportunities were provided for students to learn in the classroom and outdoors. Students engaged in age-appropriate climate change solutions by helping decrease their household’s carbon footprint, increasing the schoolyard’s carbon sink, sharing their knowledge with the community, and encouraging others to take action.
About the Authors
Krysta Hougen is a Teacher Naturalist and the Summer EcoCamp Director at Pickering Creek Audubon Center in Easton, MD. She has an M.S. in Plant Biology from Ohio University.
Jaime Bunting is the Education Manager at Pickering Creek Audubon Center in Easton, MD. She has an M.S. in Natural Resources with a concentration in Environmental Education and Interpretation from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Previously, Jaime worked as a Field Instructor in Wisconsin at Conserve School and UWSP-Treehaven, and as an Interpretive Naturalist and Environmental Educator for Delaware State Parks.
Adding a science service learning project to a standard inquiry-based environmental science curriculum helped fifth grade students learn climate science as they made connections between a real-world problem and their classroom learning. Students brainstormed, researched, and developed a project to address idling in the carpool lane at school. They collected and analyzed data, and used it to build a compelling anti-idling campaign for the school community.
About the Author
Dale Glass is the Science Coordinator at National Presbyterian School, an independent N-6th grade school in Washington, DC. She earned a MS in Science Education from Montana State University, a MS in Applied Mathematics from University of Texas at Dallas, and a ScB in Biomedical Engineering
from Brown University. Her interests include service learning and teacher education through NOAA’s
Climate Stewards Education Program.
In 2007 Utah’s Hogle Zoo became an Arctic Ambassador Site for Polar Bears International (PBI) and created The Polar Bear Challenge. This competitive program engages elementary and middle school students to reduce their carbon footprints, make a difference for the future of polar bears, and positively affect the people and wildlife of Utah. Averaging 2,300 participants during the last two years, the program has developed Climate Care teaching kits and a curriculum comparing Utah’s habitats and wildlife to Alaska’s to helping students understand the interconnectedness of these ecosystems, and how our actions impact the animals, plants and people who make their homes there.
About the Author
Christine Schmitz is the Education Curator at Utah’s Hogle Zoo. She has worked in informal science education for over 30 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Scripps College and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Portland State University.
The Biggest Reducer program was developed to educate students about the growing problem of food-related waste and incite them to take action to reduce waste production during their daily lunches. Through recording of weekly waste production and an in-school assembly a 50% waste reduction was seen.
About the Author
Brandon Smith is the Environmental Program Supervisor for Brevard County Parks and Recreation at Riverwalk Nature Center in Rockledge, FL. For 15 years, he has taught and designed environmental education programs mainly focused on the Indian River Lagoon estuary. He has served on the boards of the Florida Marine Science Educators Association, Space Coast Science Education Alliance, Sea Turtle Preservation Society, and Friends of the Carr Refuge. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology from the Florida Institute of Technology.
Greenhouse gases are impacting Earth's climate and will continue to do so at elevated rates until we find ways to mitigate our actions. Biochar production via pyrolysis is a means to sequester carbon for the soil long term. Biochar is highly resistant to breakdown and thus becomes a sink for carbon storage. This strategy is accessible to students and can give a sense of empowerment to make change. In the course of this unit, students learn about the carbon cycle while producing biochar, testing biochar’s value as a soil amendment, and providing outreach on the carbon cycle to other students and the public.
About the Author
Karen Metcalf is a middle school science teacher and IB Coordinator at Cornerstone Learning Community in Tallahassee, Florida. She was a marine ecologist with a B.S. (Eckerd College), and M.A. (College of William and Mary) in marine science. Ten years in high school and middle school classrooms have allowed her to bring her love of the process of science and the marine environment to students. Karen’s goal is to teach science concepts while encouraging students to value sustainability, practice environmental conservation, and use critical thinking. Membership in NOAA’s Climate Stewards Education Project has facilitated special projects that support these goals. She is also the leader of Cornerstone’s Maker Club.