In the following editions of The Earth Scientist, a peer reviewed science education journal published by The National Earth Science Teachers Association, educators who completed projects supported by NOAA Planet Stewards shared stories, innovations, and resources that you may find useful in your own education setting. These articles include links to background information, supporting materials, and student worksheets available for you to download and adapt. They reflect the enthusiasm, hard work and success of educators, their students, and communities. We hope you enjoy these special issues produced in cooperation with the National Earth Science Teachers Association. Find out more about NOAA Planet Stewards and how you can receive support to carry out a hands-on stewardship project.
In order to be an active citizen of today’s world, children and adults need to be climateliterate. This article describes a NOAA Climate Stewards year-long project that provided opportunities for student leadership, student choice, and learning how to be a climateliterate person. The schoolwide stewardship program in California involved students at all grade levels. Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders established overall goals for students to reduce energy usage and waste consumption. Fourth and fifth grade students created an Eco Super Hero program for grades K-5 and a Turtle Camp specifically for kindergarten and 1st grade students. Grade 4 through grade 8 students in the program were able to explain climate science, understood its connections to human activity, and felt like they had the tools to continue to make a difference in mitigating future impact.
Jessica Lura works at Bullis Charter School, a K-8 public charter school in California. A National Board Teacher and Google Certified Innovator, she has taught both elementary and middle school including first, second, third, and eighth grade. She can be reached at email@example.com.
A priority for climate change educators is to present evidence-based information while promoting students’ positive engagement. A crucial avenue towards achieving these goals is to combine classroom activities with opportunities for students’ active engagement with sustainable solutions through individual and collaborative action projects. The present article describes Science, Camera, Action! (SCA), a fifteen-week after-school program carried out with fourth- to seventh-graders. SCA’s Science component used interactive activities to demonstrate the interrelationships between Earth’s changing climate, ecosystems, and sustainable actions within communities. Photovoice, SCA’s Camera component, involved the use of digital photography to explore youths’ climate change perspectives and to identify opportunities for their active engagement. Finally, SCA’s Action component aimed to cultivate youth potential as agents of change in their families and communities through the development and implementation of youth-led action projects. Action projects included local policy advocacy, a tree-planting campaign, a photo gallery opening, development of a website, and the establishment of a Boys and Girls Club community garden. Following the program, participants demonstrated increased climate change knowledge, improved pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors, and an enhanced sense of agency to positively impact the environment. They also gained a deeper appreciation for science (e.g., in school, careers, and society) and reported increased interest, confidence, and performance in school science.
Dr. Carlie Trott is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cincinnati. Her research focuses on university-community partnerships for collaborative research and action to advance social justice and environmental sustainability. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Applied Social Psychology from Colorado State University (CSU). Previously, Carlie held a postdoctoral research fellowship with CSU’s STEM Center. Carlie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While many of us assume that recycling is now entrenched in our 21st century culture, analyzing recycling bins in public places, such as schools, quickly dispels that notion. This article describes an action project completed by 5th grade students in New York State as they focused their attention on their school’s recycling bins and worked to increase recycling behavior in their school community. Students first collected photographic evidence of the use of recycling bins in classrooms and then used a variety of methods to educate fellow students on the importance of recycling. Two months later, they collected additional photographic evidence of bin use, and saw an increase in the number of bins used correctly. Students concluded that recycling behavior can be increased through education.
Kottie Christie-Blick is a teacher in the South Orangetown Central School District in New York State. She is also an educational consultant who specializes in teaching educators how to teach about climate change. She is the creator of the children’s blog kidsagainstclimatechange.com. She is a NOAA Climate Stewards Educator and a Distinguished Fulbright Teacher. Kottie can be reached at email@example.com.
This NOAA Planet Stewards Project involved an elementary school on the island of O‘ahu on raising and releasing sea urchins to help restore the health of recently remediated reefs adjacent to the Waikīkī Aquarium. In May of 2013, 117 urchins were released giving everyone involved a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that in their small way they could do something to improve overall reef health. Also discussed are the challenges and successes encountered by the participating educators’ and students’, the logic for selecting the school to participate in this program, and recommendations for similar citizen science stewardship projects.
Rick Jones is an Associate Professor of Science Education and Science at University of Hawai’i at West O’ahu (UHWO). He holds B.S. degrees in Geology and Secondary Science Education and a MS in Natural Science from the University of Wyoming and an Ed. D in Curriculum and Instruction – Science Education from Montana State University. He has over twenty-five years of teaching sciences in public schools in Wyoming, Hawai’i and Montana. Rick has been at UHWO for over ten yearswhere he teaches Geology, Meteorology, Oceanography and Science Methods courses. Rick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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