Friday, January 29, 2016

Resources for Teaching Climate Change to Younger Students

Climate change, fossil fuels and energy is a complex subject rooted both in science and politics, therefore making it a difficult subject to teach younger students.

In order to start teaching the subject to younger, elementary-school aged students,National Center for Science Education guest blogger and high school science teacher Barbara A. O’Malia offers a suggestion.

According to O’Malia, “[a] book by Molly Bang, Buried Sunlight, could provide just the path you need to talk about these tricky topics with your young students.”
"Narrated by an anthropomorphized Sun, calling itself 'your golden star', this illustrated children’s book follows the path of energy as it enters the Earth’s system, warms the 'land, sea and…air’ and ends up as fossil fuels, which is described as ancient life buried deep underground for millions of years,” said O’Malia.

The book cleverly engages younger students in subjects like photosynthesis, cellular respiration, and the process of the creation of fossil fuels and how we use them.

Aside from the science behind climate change, the book also addresses the role humans play.
"The last few pages discuss how humans use fossil fuels, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In her discussion of climate change, the author introduces key concepts like the greenhouse effect as well as the effects of global warming on Arctic ice and glaciers, warming seas that are beginning to creep onto land, and fiercer storms, drought, and floods,” O’Malia says.

The book is intended for students in grade 3-6, but O’Malia says she sometimes refers to it in introducing related topics like global warming to her high school students because the illustrations are that clear and concise.
" What students learn at a young age has the potential to influence them for the rest of their lives. This book isn’t an answer to all of the problems regarding energy education, but it’s a start. It's a great way to get students thinking about their energy usage. The first step though, can be through a simple illustrated book on buried sunlight.”

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