Every edition of Green Teacher comes with a number of open-access articles in addition to those that are restricted to members. The Fall 2019 2020 edition [ Vol 121 ] contained the following two articles:
Escape the Mundane By Matt Downs
Creating a digital escape room to engage students
As a science educator, I am keenly aware that dealing with environmental issues is one of the most pressing concerns facing humanity. Experts agree that most of today’s environmental concerns stem from individuals’ daily behavior, including their consumption and waste disposal. It is also widely understood that a population’s participation in the proper disposal of domestic waste is essential to a well-run waste management system. Recycling has emerged as one of the most promising approaches to preventing solid waste from being deposited into landfills. This is likely due to the fact that recycling is a relatively simple behavior to maintain and is both economically feasible and environmentally beneficial.
Recently, I conducted a study with middle schoolers in my district to determine their recycling knowledge and behaviors. My results indicated that students consider recycling to be important and understand why it is important. However, these same students actually did not know what could and could not be recycled at school. Additionally, results indicated that students would recycle more with clearer guidelines and by better understanding how recycling helps them. Ultimately, this led me to develop a way to improve student participation in correctly and proactively participating in school-wide recycling. …
Essentials for Teaching Climate Change by Seth Wynes
Cutting through the clutter and keeping up-to-date
Teachers are mandated with covering the curriculum, but what should you do when curriculum guidelines get out of date? The study of climate change is a field transforming as rapidly as our warming planet, and high school teachers may have to cover some of the gaps left by ageing instructions. But because of polarization in the media and society, it can be difficult to know which sources to trust and how to walk the line between being alarmist and underselling the severity of this problem. Fortunately, we can look at research to decide on some key points that every student should leave school understanding. For instance, studies have shown that a few key messages are critical in motivating action from the public:
- The Earth is warming
- It’s Bad
- It’s because of humans
- Experts agree
- We can fix it
Covering these basics doesn’t need to use up a lot of time, but it does require some initiative from teachers because curriculum documents tend to focus on the first couple of points, while missing the latter ones. Many science teachers go to great lengths to ensure that students understand things like ocean currents and the greenhouse effect — concepts which would be useful and uncontroversial even if our planet wasn’t in the midst of a climate crisis. But there are opportunities to address other important scientific ideas, while also teaching the five key points. For instance, the process of achieving consensus is vital to the scientific endeavour, and this process can be described while explaining that that 97% of climate scientists have come to agreement on the causes of climate change.