The Climate Summit (COP21), now underway in Paris, presents a fantastic teachable moment for engaging students on the science, math and social studies behind climate issues. In his news conference today, President Obama referred to climate change as a “generational issue” and your students comprise the generation that will be most affected by the decisions made over the next two weeks.
Pop Ed’s newest climate lesson plan, The Carbon Crunch, is spot-on with this month’s international meeting. In the activity, students read about the scientists’ idea of a “carbon budget” and then demonstrate (with Legos or snapblocks) how a variety of countries compare in carbon emissions, climate vulnerability, and ability to cope with the present and future effects of climate change (sea level rise, extreme weather and agricultural production). The disparity among countries in each of these areas really brings home the importance of 200 nations finding a sustainable solution for the future of the planet.
Another way to engage students in climate news is through this year’s World of 7 Billion Student Video Contest for grades 6-12. Deforestation is one of the themes. Just hours ago, Prince Charles spoke on this very issue at the Climate Summit. “It is very simple: we must save our forests, for there is no Plan B to tackle climate change or many of the other critical challenges that face humanity without them,” he urged. A winning video not only receives a cash award ($1,000) but could motivate others to care and act.