climate education

Thu, 2012-05-17 11:30Guest
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New National Standards Ask Schools to Teach Climate Change

This is a guest post by Juanita Constible, Science and Solutions Director of The Climate Reality Project, cross-posted with permission.

As a scientist, I know how important it is for our kids to get a top-notch science education. So it’s extremely significant that a new set of national science standards – the first to be released in over a decade – explicitly ask our schools to address climate change.


The Next Generation Science Standards lay out core ideas K-12 students should understand about the basics of science – from biology, to physics and chemistry, to earth science. The last national standards were released back in 1996, and manmade climate change wasn’t mentioned. However, the new standards recognize that students need to know human activities are changing our climate. They also recognize that schools are training the next generation of engineers and scientists who can help solve the problem.

In the standards for middle school, for example, one of the core ideas is that “human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (‘global warming’).” The standards for high school note that “changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.”

This is welcome news after a disheartening couple of months in the science education world. In February, news broke about the industry-funded Heartland Institute’s plans to push misinformation about climate change into schools. (Yes, the same Heartland Institute that compared people who believe in climate change science to mass murderers. Many schools already avoid teaching about climate change because some teachers (and parents) view the topic as too controversial. (Of course, there’s nothing controversial about the underlying science.)

Wed, 2011-02-16 05:14Chris Mooney
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The Coming Classroom Climate Conflict

I’ve just completed a trip out to the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado—a town that’s in many ways the chief hub for our country’s climate scientists, as well as for a variety of other researchers (especially on weather and renewable energy) and many science education specialists. My visit was focused on science communication, but another theme kept coming up: climate science education, and the conflicts arising therein.

A lot of people out here seem worried about growing resistance to climate science teaching in schools. It was a regular topic of conversation, and at the end of my public talk, one audience member asked whether there needs to be an equivalent of the National Center for Science Education for the climate issue. (The National Center for Science Education is the leading organization defending the teaching of evolution in the U.S.). And no wonder: This state has already seen one of the most direct attacks on climate education yet—although it seems to have fizzled.

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