January: Addressing Climate Change in School and Community: Learning, Discussing, Doing

Climate change is an urgent topic for science and society. To help students and communities learn and respond to the climate crisis, multiple strategies are needed. Our expert panel will lead a conversation about three strategies for engaging learning and teaching about climate change, as exemplified in selected Multiplex videos: [1] as part of the curriculum, [2] as a focus of citizen science, and [3] as part of the debate in communities at large about the reliability and meaning of emerging science. Read Blog Post

Theme's playlist

Expert Panel


Addressing Climate Change in School and Community: Learning, Discussing, Doing

Recorded:  Jan 13, 2021 3:00 PM ET

Description: This expert panel will lead a conversation about three strategies for engaging learning and teaching about climate change, as exemplified in selected Multiplex videos: [1] as part of the curriculum, [2] as a focus of citizen science, and [3] as part of the debate in communities at large about the reliability and meaning of emerging science.


View Recording


Share your thoughts on the videos of this playlist.
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    January 13, 2021 | 11:55 a.m.

    Climate change education is far too rich a topic to fit into one hour! Our panel discussion will leave many avenues unexplored — this discussion aree will be active for the next 3 weeks, and I hope you'll make use of it to pursue your interest further with your colleagues in the field. 

         I want to direct your attention to the videos in the playlist.  I chose them because they exemplify many different strategies for grappling with climate change as a scientific and a policy or public-health concern.  What do you think about their choice of audience(s)?  About the pedagogical strategies used?  About the complementary strengths of formal, informal, and community-centered work?  How does your work compare or contrast?  Do you see something you'd like to try in your own work?  

        And most important — do you see ways to incorporate some or all of these approaches in your work going forward — whether research, materials design, education, or community action? 

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  • January 13, 2021 | 12:55 p.m.

    Brian - Thank you for your invitation to join the panel for this month's Theme.  I look forward to the  discussion, especially exploring ways that we can all leverage the work we do to reach more people on this critical topic and move our communities to take action!

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  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    January 19, 2021 | 02:10 p.m.

    During the chat, KarenJane N wrote:  "Can you share link to your where’s Waldo? - might be in above links?? "

    This activity was developed for the Climate Lab project, a collaboration betwen Manomet and TERC.  The lesson materials are housed on the Manomet site, and can be downloaded from there.  The "Waldo" activity, which was the first installment of the "signal vs. noise" thread, is in Lesson 1 (though there are follow ups in the other lessons as well) .  Here's the link: 


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  • January 19, 2021 | 02:54 p.m.

     Does the focus on values (which many of us hold deeply) help or hinder us in getting the engagement in the science? Many people (including many of our educators and researchers) have a strong belief system that drives us to be involved in the climate change discussion and educational outreach. Given the politicization of our public discourse, I wonder whether we are clear about how we present and focus on the science of climate change in a manner that allows the politics and call for action being a response to  a deeper scientific understanding. 

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  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    January 20, 2021 | 09:40 a.m.

    Hi, Alan,

        This is an interesting question.  The needed kind of "deeper scientific understanding", in my opinion, varies a lot with who the learners are. As you know, more knowledge as usually tested does not translate into more concern about the climate, and more knowledge, in a propositional sense, does not translate into pro-environmental action.  There are so  many modulating factors!

     For younger kids, it seems to me that the main thing is to build their attentive and respectful acquaintance with the natural world as they encounter it.  How does it work?  What happens around the course of the year?  How do things vary, year by year?  Information about climate change needs some context, and at the early years, my prejudice is for doing it on an "as needed"  basis, 

       Older kids need the same thing, but in addition can handle information about distant ecosystems  Starting in middle school, kids are beginning to engage with public welfare sort of ideas, and so drawing on their growing awareness of some aspect of the climate change work can be related naturally to some action they can take. Recycling and composting at one end of the spectrum;  citizen science or policy advocacy at the other.  (not quite sure what spectrum that is, but you get my drift). 

    An awful lot of adults don't know much about the natural history of their own area, much less "globally," so there is much to be said for citizen=science and similar activiities.  

    People have to understand to some extent what is at stake, and how climate change is affecting things they care about. 

      So most of my education work is aimed at that focus of knowledge, and I try to make sure that my intense desire for active response is only visible to the learner in fairly contextualized ways. It's ok to say, "The world is changing in the following ways," but you have to help people understand what it is that is changing.

        That's my 2¢ on this.  Working with teachers or other adults one can be much more direct, and engage in argumentation based on various kinds of data — but the widespread ecological ignorance in this country needs to be kept firmly in mind. 


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