In this section we can share tips tricks, best practice, obstacles we run into and a lot more!
Tips and tricks
Some tips and trick for engaging your students on the topic of climate change
Show it don't say it
Do lab experiments, practical activities, demonstrations and use data to show students the physical phenomena which occur during climate change. Hands on activities are also more memorable for them to remember the key concepts. Using models and analyzing real world data and examples also helps to solidify and quantify the causes and effects of climate change topics.
Make it meaningful
Link to your students’ own experiences as well as your own. Include (service) projects which can help students engage in a meaningful and (non academic) way. Introducing projects which suit your situation are more relevant. See the exercises for each chapter for relevant ideas which might suit your context!
Remember, small changes can have big results! Small, consistent changes at the individual level may be just as if not more effective than demanding change at national and global levels. In the Netherlands from 2017-2019, the increase of vegetarian/vegan meat-substitutes increased by 51%! Shopping 2nd hand, and being aware of the transport chain in your food is also an important individual choice we can easily be aware of.
Leave room for debate
While climate change itself might not be debatable, the way in which individuals, communities, governments and society address it is very open. Culture, politics, economics and social situations play a major role in how groups address climate change. Using debates or activities in which students can see multiple sides of a story allow them to step into another persons shoes. Good practice is to show or supply students with primary sources from multiple perspectives (e.g. interviews, written accounts, documentaries) which they can analyse and justify. Being open to differing priorities is also important, and look to teach students how to seek common ground and ask questions to gain insight into another perspective. Identifying all stakeholders and their needs is important in this regard; something you find important might be less important to someone else for completely valid reasons.
Do citizen science
Allow students to engage in small to large scale citizen science projects. This gives them ownership, and adds a real relevant element to what they are doing – it’s not for nothing! Small initiatives could be school wide data collection on for example weather, pollution, biodiversity, etc. Search for local or national initiatives (government or university) for open or citizen science, which may provide resources, or even funding to complete educational projects.
- Netherlands: www.openscience.nl; www.globenederland.nl; https://www.nwo.nl/en/open-science;
“Everyone should go vegan!”, “Solar panels everywhere!”
All of our choices have implications – solar panels require mining and production, and electric cars require batteries containing lithium – which also needs to be mined. Is the energy you charge an electric car with ‘green’? How far over the world did your soy travel before it was produced into a soy burger? How long will your electric car battery last before it needs to be replaced and how many times can it be recycled or repurposed.
Encourage your students to think not in absolutes or poles but in spectra. You can ask questions using phrasing like “to what extent”, and encourage them to think in lifecycle terms instead of absolute use terms.
Evaluate sources and provide the with reliable, valid and academic sources as much as possible. Evaluate who is writing the article, research or recommendation and be critical – what could they gain from this standpoint.
Principles of teaching climate change (USA)Visit website
7 tips to give the climate a helping hand (Dutch)Visit website
Teaching materials from dutch meteorological institute (KNMI), DutchVisit website