Conference participants will be presenting posters about their efforts to engage the public in learning more about weather and climate and about global climate change and its implications.

A Voice for their Communities; Engaging Underrepresented Youth on the Issue of Climate Change

Joey Adamji and Kristen Iverson Poppleton, Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center, Science Museum of Minnesota


The Science Museum of Minnesota’s Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center (KAYSC) develops and implements programs that blend STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics) education with youth development practice and job skill development. The KAYSC targets urban youth ages 11-18 in demographics that are underrepresented in STEM fields, in particular girls, youth of color and youth from low-income backgrounds. Over 100 youth participants engage in project-based learning as museum volunteers or paid employees and share what they learn with children and adults through outreach in the museum and in the surrounding communities. As part of a NASA grant to the Museum, KAYSC’s Climate Crew, a paid youth team, began in October of 2009 and meets twice a week. The crew has been working on developing a skill set for communicating about climate change through various media forms such as music, spoken word and animation. Topics covered have included: the science of climate change, environmental justice, and how climate change is communicated. Future goals include presenting at community events and facilitating community discussions about how climate change affects low-income communities.

Arena for Engagement

Christopher Andrews, Chief of Public Engagement and Director of Steinhart Aquarium, California Academy of Sciences


Altered State: Climate Change in California is an excellent example of an exhibition that has elements of an informal learning setting. In some ways, the exhibition creates a free-choice learning environment that mirrors everyday learning: the sieve-like design allows visitors to follow their individual interest and what catches their eye rather than having to follow someone else’s planned exhibition path.

One of the resonant successes of Altered State is visitors’ attitudinal and affective response to the tone of the exhibition; interviewees said the approach to climate change was balanced, and noted that while climate change is a daunting challenge, the exhibit explains that it is possible for individuals to change their behaviors and have an impact on the issue. Within Altered State, the area entitled Arena for Engagement is where visitors can learn how to do this. They can share their ideas on how to reduce the impacts of humans on the planet, learn about the latest innovative designs, and understand how simple everyday decisions can impact their personal or their family’s carbon footprint.

Through the Arena for Engagement we believe that we are encouraging our visitors change their behaviors and furthering our mission of protecting the natural world.

Green Energy Technologies in the City: GET City!

Angela Calabrese Barton, PhD & Shari Rose, Ph.D., Dept. of Teacher Education, Michigan State University; Scott Calabrese Barton, PhD & Nathaniel Leonard, Dept. of Chemical Engineering, Michigan State University; Carmen Turner, President, Boys and Girls Club of Lansing, MI


Green Energy Technologies in the City (GET City) is a year round program (after school and summer) for low-income middle school aged Lansing youth that supports them in learning to use advanced IT skills to identify, investigate, and model solutions related to energy and the urban environment. Curricular units include: urban heat islands, energy supply and demand, energy efficiency and conservation, alternative energies and green design. Core content covered in these units include: energy and its forms, energy and the environment, energy technologies, and energy and climate change. The program brings together an after-school component focused on IT skills development and IT-driven energy investigations, college preparatory and IT workforce skill development experiences, field-based summer design experiences, community events, parent participation, and mentors. GET City is a collaboration between MSU’s Colleges of Education and Engineering, the Boys and Girls Club of Lansing, Urban Options, the Lansing Board of Water and Light, and the Lansing Mayor’s Office.

GET City emphasizes the importance of youth becoming green energy experts as it plays out in their local context. By bringing together investigations that are grounded in scientifically rigorous yet locally meaningful problems related to green energy and the environment, youth are positioned as experts on green energy issues. Our research has revealed how and why youth take up positions as community science experts and the nature of and the role that content expertise plays in that position.

For example, our unit on alternative energies focused on whether Lansing should build a newly proposed hybrid power plant. Youth-based concerns about the need for jobs, the rising cost of fossil fuels, and our reliance on electricity to provide refrigerated food, framed the questions youth asked and the information they sought to acquire as they struggled to decide what was best for their community with respect to the power plant. The value of scientific information took on significance as youth attempted to figure out how they might reconcile these sometimes competing and conflicting discourses (i.e., sociocultural, economic, and political). This is of concern because environmental education historically has focused on the content of environmental science without considering its social and political locations. Even when schools consider the action-oriented goals of environmental education, they tend to neglect how or why youth might engage such problems. Moreover environmental discourses have often existed in tension with the economic concerns of low-income families. Consequently, we know little about how or why youth might position themselves as important members of society.

Furthermore, with respect to climate change, we have found that the task of making sense of multiple sometimes competing and conflicting discourses is even more daunting. We are faced with the challenge that many youth are subject to dominant media messages: that the world is burning up or climate change is not a real issue. Youth have indicated that families, friends and neighbors do not care, understand, or believe that their energy practices have an impact on the environment and specifically on climate change. Youth also revealed that they do not actually understand climate change: They wonder about the differences between climate change and everyday weather as well as how they will know “when it will happen.” It is clear that for the youth in GET City, climate change discourse is not a dominant discourse in their personal lives, and when they do hear about climate change – primarily through popular media – talk about it is riddled with myths and misconceptions. In our poster we highlight the ways in which youth have appropriated the knowledge and discourses of green energy and the urban environment (with attention paid to the link to climate change), the means by which they do so within a technology-rich after-school program, and how they seek to make sense of and negotiate the value of this knowledge and these discourses through the problems that face their communities.

The Importance of Decision Making in Climate Change

Sapna Batish, Exhibitions Manager and Erica Shugart, Deputy Director, Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences


To help the public gain an understanding of their role in responding to climate change, the Koshland Science Museum seeks collaboration with other members of the informal science education community in its new climate gallery, the Climate Change Decision Lab (Decision Lab), slated to open in January 2011. When it opened in 2004, the Koshland Science Museum’s inaugural exhibit, Global Warming: Facts and Our Future, received much attention in the U.S. because of its focus on the scientific evidence of global warming. It features Consider the Alternatives, an interactive decision support tool that allows visitors to examine the economic trade-offs of selected responses to climate change. The interactive was developed in collaboration with university researchers who collected and evaluated visitor responses as part of a study. The summative evaluation revealed that 42% of visitors enjoyed it mainly due to the opportunity to think about policy decisions and environmental trade-offs.

The success of Consider the Alternatives inspired the Koshland to develop the Decision Lab, which will feature exhibits with more advanced decision support tools. A 2009 evaluation of Koshland’s visitors revealed that they feel global warming is a serious problem requiring immediate action. However, there was a mixed response about whether they were taking actions to mitigate climate change. Understanding that visitors are convinced that global warming is occurring, but may have uncertainties about the impacts of climate change or the actions that they can take will frame the content of the Decision Lab. Visitors will be asked to consider the following questions: “Why should the public be concerned about current and future climate change?” and “What is the range of options to mitigate future climate change and to adapt to its effects at a regional or national level?”

For example, in one portion of the Decision Lab, visitors will have the opportunity to develop a portfolio of greenhouse gas mitigation strategies, see the resultant projected temperature and impacts in the 21st Century, compare the outcome of their strategies with those of others, and have the opportunity to modify their portfolio if they wish to see a different set of outcomes. This set of actions will incorporate a multimedia decision support tool that helps visitors weigh the trade-offs associated with their energy portfolio. The Decision Lab will collect data to study the efficacy of the approach itself as well as map visitor trends over time with evaluation techniques embedded and sustained in both the museum and online components of the exhibit. The findings will be shared with the wider informal learning community.

The Koshland’s primary audience is teens and adults. The visitor experience includes volunteer explainers who engage people using interactive exhibits and hands-on activities. Evening programs provide the general public an entrée into a host of topics that focus on the role of science in society. We provide free educator-led field trips for area middle and high school students. The Koshland’s website ( contains activities for students such as WebQuests. We also work with several area universities and colleges, who utilize the museum exhibits as a learning lab. Our community outreach has focused on participation in city-wide public events.

We are seeking new ideas from the informal science education community that would make the Decision Lab a highly accessible and engaging experience for museum and online audiences. We would like to get input in a number of areas, including hands-on science activities, public programs, community events, online games, and informal curriculum for middle school, high school, and college students. We are interested in both formal collaborations as well as informal input. Please contact Sapna Batish at

Science Beyond the BoundariesSM

Jennifer Boxer, Director, International Initiatives, Science Beyond the Boundaries, Saint Louis Science Center


Science Beyond the BoundariesSM is an international network of over 100 science centers, large and small, reaching over 37 million visitors annually and still growing. It was founded in October 2006 by the Saint Louis Science Center. The network’s purpose is to connect science center visitors with the advancing frontiers of science and facilitate the connection between scientific research and their lives. The Saint Louis Science Center takes a central leadership role in responding to the needs of the field, facilitating the development of materials, providing a conduit for sharing best practices, evaluating impact and coordinating activities. There are no costs associated with membership in the network or materials created for network projects. Current programs to share include: Breakthroughs in Science, DASH+ High School Contest, DNA Day, Google Lunar X PRIZE, Xtreme Everest, and much more. For further information, or to join the network, email

Would you be convinced by climate science without evidence? Why it's essential to INVOLVE the public in hands-on physical discovery.

James Callahan, Director and Editor,


What does it looks like to involve tens of thousands of kids and adults in climate science? Over the last 10 years, climate education specialists for five leading California science museums and aquariums have joined forces to provide training for hundreds of teachers and interactive hands-on demonstrations for schools, universities, elected officials, large public events, and conferences. Exciting, engaging, social. Alive. We also draw from the experience of having edited one of the world’s most popular and influential internet climate education resources. Our web portals are used by millions. We promote and work with hundreds of programs from over 60 countries. Ours was the international web portal for climate educators for the Copenhagen COP15 Conferences.

Scientists and educators have a duty to bring the public real evidence – physical evidence that they can discover and examine themselves. Such is readily available, and yet the great majority of education programs in America do not use these tools. We urge you to include hands-on climate science in the programs you support, or at least – please – funders: be careful to not brush aside programs that allow the public to do real science. Yes, what we do takes more effort, but it makes a huge difference.

Most climate education in America is conveyed simply with words and images. Let’s be aware of the hazards of doing only that. Scientists have their words and images. Climate science deniers and info-tainers have theirs. Who knows what is real? Who to trust? Kids will play thousands of videos and games a year. Is the plan for our movies to out-compete Hollywood, Gameboy and TV fantasy reality?

Yet, we have something to beat it all – jaw-dropping science demonstrations. An experience people never forget, convincing them of the science, instilling passion to act upon it. In the coming years, can we afford not to use our best resources?

Climate Literacy Conference participating programs are invited to join us at Family Science Days on Saturday and Sunday. We’ve put out the word: bring what you have that is hands-on climate science. Join the national gathering of climate educators, as thousands come together: kids, families, scientists and press to do science. Thank you AAAS for making this possible!!  |

Where High Tech Meets High Touch: The Creation of Climate Change Interactive and Hands-On Programming at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center

Kathe Crowley Conn, President, Aldo Leopold Nature Center


The Aldo Leopold Nature Center in Wisconsin plans to create an interpretive program where “high tech meets high touch” and establish a new educational approach that combines cyberlearning with hands-on outdoor field experience in the nonformal setting as the educational core to a new Climate Change Classroom and Interactive Laboratory.

The goal of this initiative is to provide grade-appropriate experiences that:

  • foster an awareness and deeper understanding of ecological principles of climate change,
  • nurture a constructive approach to understanding climate change through enhanced critical thinking and problem solving skills, and
  • encourage positive stewardship by providing resources and ‘test scenarios’ for decision-making and action.

This project will be housed in an 8,000 square-foot LEED-certified addition to the Center’s existing facility. The facility will house a carefully designed sequence of educational modules and interpretive experiences which can be flexibly programmed to be appropriate for visitors of all ages. Visitors will learn about influences on the Earth’s climate, the role of energy in the natural world, choices in energy consumption and use, and the relationships between them. The dynamics of energy, weather, and environment will be explained through large-scale demonstrations and hands-on experiment stations.

Large interactive video technology will allow visitors to graphically create and explore examples of “What if…?” for environment, energy and climate scenarios. Once educated about the fundamentals behind energy use and consumption, visitors will be able to explore the impact of energy choices and use.

Complementing these high-tech components will be various hands-on educational components and exhibitry, including an “innovation station” to encourage invention and exploration; hands-on mechanical exhibits; public information kiosks, as well as topical temporary exhibits on related topics.The interpretive experience will be integrated with and complement outdoor, field-based investigations on the Center grounds.

But the key to the program is the development of new interactive learning systems – a carefully crafted series of computer-based educational modules that not only present educational content, but respond to the visitor/student input. This interactivity is core to student-directed learning and allows the student to be an ‘active agent’ in exploring climate and energy issues. The software platform for the interactive learning system allows us to modify content according to grade level comprehension, and also provides us a way to monitor the effectiveness of the interpretive educational program (through computer-generated pre- and post-visit audience testing), and can provide data for assessing and improving educational components.

This feedback will be captured and evaluated, providing us immediate feedback and comparison on pre- and post-visit group knowledge and attitudes, as well as success ratios for multiple choice options in interactive exhibits (providing data on the effectiveness of each individual module).

The Center is joined in this effort by broad collaborative partnerships representing a rich network of resources and expertise throughout the State of Wisconsin, including the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts to infuse the curriculum with Wisconsin-based impact data and scenarios, and with the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board to insert live-action video and educational resources into the educational modules.

We are interested in talking to others who are developing: user-directed interactive software; methods of integrating outdoor field exploration with indoor interactive computer technology; or networks to link real time data as well as climate change impact data.

Green Learning Adventure – Climate Change Education for Students in Grades 5-8

Andrea Cook, Program Manager, Climate Change and Siobhan Foley, Director of Education and Outreach, California Center for Sustainable Energy


The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) is an independent, nonprofit organization that helps residents, businesses, public agencies, and others save energy, reduce grid demand and generate their own power through a variety of rebate, technical assistance and education programs. CCSE provides the community with objective information, research, analysis and long-term planning on energy issues and technologies.

CCSE promotes change for a clean energy future and is dedicated to Greening Your World®.As of January 2010, CCSE has 50 full-time employees working in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, green building, transportation and climate change. CCSE is here to help.

The Green Learning Adventure (GLA) is CCSE's new community education initiative to teach elementary and middle school students about global climate change and sustainable living. The GLA is geared primarily to students in grades five through eight, and it provides up to 15 different hands-on, interactive lesson modules covering topics ranging from exposing absurd packaging to exploring the transportation requirements of a home-cooked meal.

The GLA in-classroom enrichment premiered at a parent-student science night at Bethune Elementary School in San Diego’s Bay Terraces neighborhood in November 2009. Andrea Cook, Ph.D. and CCSE climate program manager, led the fun-filled learning experience for more than 100 students and parents, who answered questions at the Sustain-A-Wheel, rode the human-energy bike and investigated where bottled water comes from.

During 2010, the GLA team will visit more than 40 schools within San Diego County, leaving behind information on what students can do in their lives and at home to conserve energy and water, reduce waste and implement other sustainable practices.

The first year of the GLA program is supported by a $50,000 grant from the Sempra Energy Foundation, a $38,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation and $17,000 from Sempra Utilities. Additional funding is being sought to extend the program for two years.

For more information on the GLA and photos, visit

Schools, youth groups and other community organizations interested in hosting a Green Learning Adventure should contact Andrea Cook at (858) 244-4869 or

To donate to the GLA please contact Siobhan Foley, CCSE Director of Education and Outreach, at (858) 244-7292 or

Learn Green to Live Green

Rick Crosslin, School Liaison for Science Learning and Becky Wolfe, Science Programmer, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis


The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
The largest children’s museum in the world has implemented a variety of programs to educate children and families on the importance of and need for sustainable practices at home and at school. The mission of The Children’s Museum is to create extraordinary learning experiences with sustainable practices that have the power to transform the lives of children and families. We hope to provide a public conduit for accurate information on climate change and sustainable energy strategies.

Museum Rain Garden
In June 2009, the museum created a rain garden on the museum campus. Rainwater from the museum’s Welcome Center and plaza is directed to the garden, where it is filtered by native plants before returning to the local watershed. Public programs educate our visitors on the benefits of creating home rain gardens.

‘Indiana Expeditions’ Season 2: Indiana Weather
The museum partnered with Indianapolis Public Broadcasting television station WFYI to create “Indiana Expeditions,” a science discovery program for students, teachers, and the public. The TV series included a companion DVD, illustrated transcripts, online student lessons, and a teacher toolkit with lesson plans on weather. Local experts, educators, the Indiana state climatologist, and Purdue University and Ball State University staff were featured. General weather topics and climate change were presented.

Learn Green, Live Green Teacher Institute
The focus of this project is to provide public visitors, students, and teachers with strategies to understand environmental issues such as energy, water quality, recycling, and climate change. The project includes:

  • a five-day professional development teacher institute in June 2010
  • an outdoor exhibit area relating to sustainable energy and its environmental impact
  • sustainable energy and “green” strategies displays in the museum
  • a SciencePort® inquiry program on sustainable energy strategies that includes a dynamic Web-based learning experience designed for families
  • a sustainable energy unit of study designed for Grades K–8

Museum Sustainability Planning Grant
The museum was recently awarded a planning grant to evaluate the museum’s infrastructure and practices in relationship to sustainability. The goal of the project is to identify ways for the museum to reduce its impact on the environment. A team of museum staff are working to implement strategies.

Senator Richard Lugar K–12 Energy Summit
The museum partnered with Senator Richard Lugar, local industry leaders, and Purdue University to present the Lugar Collegiate Energy Summit in 2009. Building upon the success of that summit, the museum is creating the first Lugar K–12 Energy Summit for students and the public. The project includes:

  • opportunity for teachers of Grades 4–12 and small groups of students to learn about renewable energy, sustainability, and environmental impact
  • workshops and discussions facilitated by museum staff, university educators, scientists, and industry and community leaders
  • opportunity for participants to complete a service project on energy and display their project at The Children’s Museum on Earth Day in April 2011
A Little More Conversation, a Lot More Action: Engaging the Public in Climate Change Research

Debbie DeRoma, Education Director, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center


The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center inspires lifelong learning by making science relevant to our visitors. As part of this effort, the Fleet recently launched a comprehensive program to engage audiences in examining the local impacts of climate change. Too often, climate change education focuses on the global impacts of excessive greenhouse gases, such as shrinking sea ice, melting glaciers, and loss of polar habitats. This leaves residents in southern California with the mistaken belief that climate change is something that happens in remote areas. Many residents are unaware of the local indicators of climate change. Through numerous types of programming, including citizen science projects, interactive speaker presentations, summer camps, and family science programs, the Fleet makes visitors aware of local climate change indicators and also empowers them with tools to actively participate in scientific research and dialogue.

One of the Fleet’s most visible endeavors is the San Diego County Phenology Network, a joint project with the San Diego Natural History Museum. This citizen science program allows volunteers of all ages to assist scientists in the collection of climate change data by recording observations of the flowering of native plant species across the county. Besides entering their data in an online database, volunteers are encouraged to share their observations and anecdotes through blogs and photo sharing web sites. By engaging in authentic data collection, these volunteers gain a better understanding of the nature of science. In turn, scientists have access to greater amounts of data.

Like the citizen science project, the Fleet’s other climate education programs are designed to make traditional scientific research more interactive and meaningful for participants. For example, the popular Climate Conversations series allows visitors to engage in small group discussions about current issues in climate change research. Similarly, the Fleet’s summer camps and after school programs provide opportunities for students and scientists to collaborate, share knowledge, and ask questions. Finally, family science events encourage parents and children to work together to understand climate science and to take steps to make a difference in the future.

Building the Capacity of Science Centers to Engage the Public in Climate Science Through Projects Illustrating Local Indicators of Global Change

Leon Geschwind, Science Education Manager and Amber Inwood, Science Educator, Bishop Museum


You may have already observed outcomes of global climate change in your region, through decreasing butterfly populations, rising inner-city temperatures, or increasingly frequent hurricanes. C3 focuses on local indicators of climate change in 12 different communities across the United States. Participating science centers are educating the public about global climate change by focusing on local examples, from disrupted bird migration patterns in Philadelphia to the health of coral reef ecosystems in Hawaii.  Besides becoming an important source of information and inspiration for ASTC events and products, C3 will produce new communication tools that will be available to everyone in the informal science education field. In addition, short films on local climate change indicators will be made available to ASTC members, and professional development seminars will be provided online not only to project participants but also to the broader ASTC community.

AZA Climate Initiative - Reducing the Effects of Climate Change on Wildlife and Wild Habitats

Shelly Grow, Conservation Biologist, Association of Zoos and Aquariums and Ruth Allard, EVP, Conservation, Experiences, and Animal Management


Zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) are conservation centers that are concerned about ecosystem health, take responsibility for species survival, contribute to research, conservation, and education, and provide society the opportunity to develop personal connections with animals. Collectively, these 221 institutions reach over 180 million visitors each year, allowing them the opportunity to play a prominent, national role in forwarding climate solutions for wildlife and wild habitats.

Many accredited zoos and aquariums are already working actively on climate programs for local and regional audiences. The AZA Climate Initiative will build from and leverage this great work, providing the opportunity to adopt a consistent message platform to engage our enormous national audience in understanding and acting to diminish climate impacts. AZA is gathering the resources, assembling the infrastructure, and building the partnerships to further advance the leadership of accredited zoos and aquariums in effectively engaging people in reducing climate impacts.

The AZA Climate initiative is a multi-year, multi-faceted platform with three primary legs:

  • A leadership thrust that positions AZA members as “walking-the-walk” by helping institutions to reduce the climate impacts of our own operations;
  • A five-year, education, communications, and marketing program designed to educate people about the effects of climate change on wildlife and to actively engage them in personal and civic actions nationwide that mitigate the effects of climate change on wildlife; and
  • Expansion of a long history of direct conservation action for species affected by climate change.

The AZA Climate Initiative draws on the wide range of expertise from within the AZA community, as well as develops targeted partnerships to maximize impact. From within the AZA community, committees and advisory groups dedicated to conservation education, field conservation, public relations, marketing, and green operations are all contributing to the AZA Climate Initiative. A strategic partnership with ecoAmerica expands capabilities for research on environmental attitudes and motivations as well as resources for developing and delivering message platforms on a national scale. A second partnership with Polar Bears International partners AZA with the leading, research-based polar bear and arctic conservation organization, to forward research that cannot be conducted in the wild and to focus attention on polar bears and arctic habitat as icons for thousands of species and habitats being affected by climate change. Additional partnerships will further build capabilities to create and deliver the AZA Climate Initiative.

With plans to rollout the AZA Climate Initiative in late 2010, there are still many opportunities to inform the AZA Climate Initiative and to become involved. To date, work on the AZA Climate Initiative has begun with the development of internal and external partnerships, a strategic plan, and related Web pages, along with initiation of conversations with directors of AZA-accredited institutions regarding an AZA-wide “Institutional Commitment” to reduce the climate impact of our collective operations. The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Conference on Promoting Climate Literacy through Informal Science will inform the Climate Initiative, and planning meetings, publications, and presentations will be offered throughout the year.

Advancing Exergy through the National Anthropocene Education Network

Patrick Hamilton, Director of Environmental and Earth-system Science, Science Museum of Minnesota


The intersections between energy, economics, and the environment are difficult to consider holistically because each is so complex in its own right, but the concept of exergy provides a means for integrating them. Exergy is the portion of the total energy of a system that is available for conversion to useful work.  Most buildings, for example, apply only a small portion of available exergy to their total facility energy demands because the heat generated by normal building operations is seldom captured for other useful work.Instead, high-quality energy sources such as electricity and fossil fuels are commonly used to satisfy the low-quality energy demands of space heating and cooling.

The total energy consumed by buildings accounts for more than one third of the world’s primary energy demand.  The recent application of exergy analyses to new and existing buildings has achieved dramatic reductions in energy consumption, which have yielded concomitant economic efficiencies and reductions in pollutants that otherwise would have been released into the environment through the burning of fossil fuels.

The Science Museum of Minnesota will finalize in the near future an exergy analysis of its facility that will provide direction on how to retrofit the institution to reduce substantially its heating and cooling loads.The Museum then will develop exergy exhibits and programs that it will share with the National Anthropocene Education Network – a partnership of 26 U.S. museums and university-based environmental institutes that seek to accelerate the pace by which innovative solutions to global environmental problems are communicated to and discussed by U.S. citizens and decision makers:

It's Your Planet, Love It!: Girl Scouts' New Environmental Program Materials

Brigid Howe, Manager, Program Services, Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital


The new Girl Scout Journeys are outcomes-based program materials that encourage girls to Discover the world around them, Connect with others in their local, national and global communities, and Take Action to make the world a better place. This poster will describe the Girl Scout Journeys and the research on girls' leadership that prompted their creation.

What will you find in these new books? The Girl Scout Leadership Experience comes to life for girls and the adults in these journeys. The leadership keys of Discover, Connect, and Take Action, along with the Girl Scout processes of Girl Led, Cooperative Learning, and Learning by Doing, are woven through each journey.

Girls are being exposed to ideas and discussions on the environment every day and every where. Girl Scouts journeys are packed with the latest research and girl-relevant environmental thinking and offer adults a way to interact with girls on topics of great importance in their lives. In this journey series, girls at each grade level have an opportunity to learn about grade-appropriate environmental issues such as clean water and air, noise pollution, global warming, soil contamination, and agricultural processes.

In a Girl Scout journey, awards link the experiences, discussions, and ideas that girls explore together. As girls progress through the levels from Daisy to Ambassador, their awards signify attaining new and higher levels of knowledge and skills, and ultimately a deeper understanding of what it means to be a leader who makes a difference in the world.

The books in the "It's Your Planet, Love It" series are:

Daisy: Between Earth and Sky (Grades K-1): Girl Scout Daisies join their flower friends for a cross-country road trip in their special flower-powered car! As they travel the country living the values of the Girl Scout Law, the flowers explore the natural world around them, learning what's local and why that's important.

Brownie: WOW! Wonders of Water (Grades 2-3): Brownies explore the Wonders of Water. Brownies learn about the water cycle through a "Green Tea for the Blue Planet," and enjoy making their own rainbows as they explore the precious resource of water. Brownies pledge to LOVE water by protecting it, then team up to advocate for other people to SAVE water, too. As they SHARE what they have learned, they find they can inspire even more people to protect Earth's water. Along the way, Brownies experience what it is like to live in places where there is not enough water. They come to understand why the right to clean water is so important to everyone on Earth.

Junior: Get Moving! (grades 4-5): Juniors build their skills as leaders who Energize, Investigate, and Innovate. They earn these three prestigious new leadership awards as they explore their own energy, the energy in their places and spaces (buildings), and the energy of getting from here to there (transportation)

Cadette: Breathe (grades 6-8): Cadettes engage all five senses as they clear the air—their own and Earth's. Girls learn to assess air quality inside and out, getting an aerial view of everything from cigarette smoking to noise in the air to deforestation.

Senior: Sow What (grades 9-10): Seniors investigate the food network. As they ponder the dirt on land use around the world, girls get down to the science and roots of complex and global food issues.

Ambassador: Justice (grades 11-12): Ambassadors will decipher how decisions get made, and explore how to use scientific evidence, Ambassadors will create and then present their own unique equation for what justice asks of us.

Climate Literacy-Professional Development and Student Education: Moving from Translation to Transformation

Karin Jakubowski, Manager of Science Education & Outreach, Clean Air-Cool Planet and Zach Smith, Program Coordinator, Wright Center for Science, Tufts University


Creating a climate literate society is the first step towards reducing climate change emissions and promoting sustainability.  However, climate literacy education must go beyond basic "outreach" and directly involve both formal and informal educators in conversations and investigations about these issues – it needs to provide adequate opportunities for professional development so that educators will fully understand content and concepts before translating for their students. Direct interaction and meetings with experts; hands-on, problem-based experiences in the field; experiments in the lab; and continuing support must all be readily available, and regular protocol for training formal and informal educators is essential.  No one-size-fits-all professional development program currently exists, but climate literacy requires a package-plan of multiple methodologies to access educators of every grade and experience level. Our team plan is to link "meet the scientists" forums with multi-day field and lab based experiential professional development, readily available curricular materials, and support (in live and virtual platforms) together to form a comprehensive climate literacy education program.

Engaging Students, Teachers, and the Public in Climate Change Discussions through Exhibits and Programs

Nicole Kowrach, Assistant Director of Teaching & Learning and Bryan Wunar, Director of Teaching and Learning, Museum of Science and Industry


The Museum of Science and Industry has made climate-related topics and issues an important and highly visible component of our current and upcoming exhibits and programs. Our poster will highlight programs and exhibits already in place, as well as present plans for those currently under development. We will also share some of what we have learned through our integrated program and exhibit development process, as well as ongoing evaluation.

Examples of current programs and exhibits to be highlighted include:

Teacher Professional Development Series: City Science

This year-long program seeks to improve student performance in science by enhancing their teachers’ science content knowledge, instructional strategies, and museum skills. Our City Science module helps teachers and students to explore the city through the eyes of a scientist. Topics include city ecology, human impact on the environment, the science behind structures and developing cities of the future.

Science Minors After School Clubs

Our Science Minors Clubs extend science engagement beyond the classroom and Museum walls into places where students already spend their time after school. The Museum partners with schools and community-based organizations to equip them with innovative science curriculum, training, and materials so they can offer and facilitate after-school science at their sites. Environmental science modules introduce students to current topics and issues in climate science.

Learning Labs

By providing focused, hands-on experience for students, Learning Labs increase students’ content knowledge in specific subject areas (including environmental science), provide experience with the scientific process, provide insight into real-world applications of science and introduce students to scientific careers.

Earth Revealed

Earth Revealed, a program venue that utilizes NOAA and NASA data sets displayed on a spherical projection system, fosters discussion among guests and Museum staff about current topics such as climate change, weather patterns and the Earth as a living system.

Examples of programs and exhibits in development include:

Explore: Blue PlanetRed Planet

In a series of highly interactive galleries, Museum guests will meet people who are pushing limits of human endurance to unlock Earth’s remaining frontiers such as the uncharted deep ocean, subterranean caves, the frozen reaches of Antarctica and the mysterious planet Mars. Fieldtrip, teacher and community programs will include a focus on what these areas can tell us about the history and future of our planet, including climate change over time.

Energy Planet

Energy Planet will engage in an exciting and dynamic presentation of America’s energy future. The exhibit will take a thought-provoking look at our current energy consumption, the long-term effects of this consumption and how science and industry are looking toward a myriad of alternative ways to power our future. A key component of the ongoing development of this exhibit includes a student design competition that informed the formulation of core concepts for the project.

This framework will serve as the platform for engaging the Museum’s 1.5 million annual visitors in the discussion of issues regarding global climate change.

Footprints: Climate Change Action and Education at the Philadelphia Zoo. Animals specialize in treading lightly on the earth, leaving nothing but footprints behind

Jennifer LaBows, Manager, Overnights and Scouts, and Erin McCool, Manager, Overnights and Scouts, Philadelphia Zoo


The Philadelphia Zoo is committed to reducing global warming and mitigating the effects of climate change on wildlife around the world. We are working hard to do our part. We have created a sustainable programs manager position to address the daily demands of greening the zoo and reducing our carbon footprint. So far we have completed a sustainability audit and are taking steps to reduce our footprint, including green building and exhibit design, clean cars, and an expanded recycling program.

The Philadelphia Zoo offers a number of structured programs for groups and individuals. Several of our programs are designed to promote awareness of climate change issues and provide opportunities for kids and adults to take action to reduce their carbon footprint. We have implemented custom climate change lessons both in the zoo and as part of our outreach programming, and we are in the process of developing an auditorium show called “Climate Change Alert”. We have developed a number of crafts and hands-on activities for our overnight programs and are incorporating them into our workshops and camps. We are also looking into a Climate Change themed scout patch that could become a model for scout programs across the country.

For the casual visitor, the Zoo has been able to incorporate climate change messages into our public interpretation, especially at our polar bear exhibit. Our partnership with Polar Bear International has provided us with educational materials that we have been able to share with our visitors at several special events including Bear Awareness Day and Party for the Planet.

Finally, in an effort to work towards a “Zero Footprint”, the zoo has created a carbon calculator on our website. Our calculator follows internationally recognized Greenhouse Gas Protocol for calculating carbon footprints. Outreach programs within 25 miles of the zoo are taxed a carbon offset fee and most other programs offer an opportunity to donate $2 toward the offset program. The Zoo is utilizing funds collected for carbon offsets to plant trees in Philadelphia’s own Fairmount Park, a site in Borneo and onsite at the Philadelphia Zoo. Students and scouts who complete large-scale service projects are invited to the zoo to help plant trees.

The Philadelphia Zoo has partnered with Polar Bear International as an Arctic Ambassador Center. In addition to offering educational programs, we have agreed to focus on animal well-being issues and actively support research that will help wild polar bears. PBI has provided an opportunity for one of our teen volunteers to attend their 2008 Leadership Camp and two Zoo staff members attended the camp this year to facilitate classes. PBI has also provided us with various educational materials and posters.

Paradise Lost? Teaching about Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region

Dolly Ledin, Outreach and ARMS Coordinator, University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Biology Education


This unique outreach and education project brings together the compelling evidence of science, the interpretive talents of professional artists and the skills of educators to engage communities in learning about climate change in the Great Lakes region. Artists, scientists and educators collaborated to create a traveling multi-media exhibit, educational events and website for teachers.

The exhibit and related programs are organized around these themes:

  1. An overview of climate, global changes, causes, scientific consensus and uncertainties
  2. Current and predicted regional impacts on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and species
  3. Actions we can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and preserve natural resources

The exhibit has traveled to 16 locations around the Midwest, reaching over 100,000 visitors. Each site hosts public lectures, discussions with scientists, artists and community organizations working to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Teacher workshops provide opportunities to interact with scientists and artists and engage in the scientific process and artistic reflection. Educator visits to classrooms involved over 2000 middle and high school students in creating artwork, exhibited in their communities.

A dynamic website for teachers provides a framework of concepts, student outcomes correlated to science standards, and links to hands-on science activities. Video-clips of scientists at work, access to real data and activities to involve students in analyzing and studying regional climate and ecosystems provide experiences to help them make decisions based on science. Artwork and art activities help students integrate personal reflections on the changes they are observing in our region.

This project is a model for engaging communities in environmental issues and provides insights into effective ways to integrate art, science and education.

Communicating Climate Change (C3) — Building the Capacity of Science Centers to Engage the Public in Climate Research Through Citizen Science

Katie Levedahl, Manager of Education, Sciencenter and Jennifer Shrik Citizen Science Liaison, Communicating Climate Change Project, Cornell Lab of Ornithology


The Communicating Climate Change (C3) project fosters innovative partnerships between research centers, science centers, and communities, to help museum audiences better understand the impacts of local climate change. Funded by the National Science Foundation and awarded to the Association of Science and Technology Centers, C3 connects twelve pairs of science museums and research institutions across the country to implement citizen science programs that focus on local indicators of climate change.

Citizen science helps us learn about climate change in several ways. By mobilizing a network of observers it allows researchers to ask questions on a global scale. Citizen science also helps individuals and communities of observers begin to see local indications of climate change and how they can affect their surroundings. Science centers are in a unique position to encourage and facilitate the implementation of citizen science projects, contributing to both better scientific understandings of climate change impacts and better public understanding of climate literacy principals. Our experience demonstrates that citizen science is a fun and engaging way of involving the public with the complex issue of climate change.

Our poster highlights the partnership between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Sciencenter, a hands-on science museum in Ithaca, NY. The Sciencenter is implementing the NestWatch citizen science project to engage middle school students in understanding the impacts of climate change on the nesting behavior of local bird populations. C3 establishes resources for this basic partnership model to easily be replicated in other communities. A brief description of the eleven other unique C3 projects provides examples of how locally-focused education and research partnerships can foster innovative approaches to community-based climate change engagement across the country. In conjunction with Community Conversations that take this engagement to a new level, C3 showcases the role of science centers in educating the general public and inspiring changes in attitudes about climate change.

Global Climate Change Education at the Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach CA

Barbara Long, Vice President for Government Relations and Special Projects, Aquarium of the Pacific


The Aquarium of the Pacific has a diverse portfolio of educational programs on global climate change for people of all ages and interests. Our primary audience is the general public (1.3-1.4 million visitors/year); an important secondary audience is school groups (200,000 individuals/year).

The messages are developed with experts and delivered through exhibits, films, lectures, and programs for our general visitors and school groups. The Aquarium also offers life-long learning classes through its Aquatic Academy. These often deal with some aspect of climate change. For example, the course this spring is entitled: “Stumbling towards Sustainability”. Each Aquatic Academy course brings experts into a small group setting to promote discussion and exploration of ideas. The emphasis is on the processes that determine Earth’s climate, how humans are affecting those processes, the implications of those changes for humans and biodiversity, and the kinds of strategies and actions at the personal and governmental levels that could mitigate global climate change. We also stress the need to adapt to a changing climate and explore the roles ‘climate intervention’ , commonly called reengineering might play as transitional strategies while achieving the desired reduction in carbon emissions and levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases. Prior courses dealt with “California and Climate Change” and California and Water” as the water crises is impacted by climate change. Education staff also integrates climate change into their presentations at major exhibits and is part of an aquarium collaborative developing climate change messaging practices. Our programs are designed to increase understanding, to promote questioning, and to encourage action.

Our most recent new major exhibit, “Our Watersheds: Pathways to the Pacific” included climate change as a threat to our water supply. The Aquarium will open a new gallery in May, 2011 that will feature “Science-on-the Sphere”—a six foot global projection platform created by NOAA—focusing on climate change and resilient coastal communities.

Finally, the Aquarium practices sustainable solutions. Some examples include: opening a new carbon-neutral classroom; registering our green house gases with the leading national registry for three year, the first museum to do so; and winning the SuperNova award from the Alliance to Save Energy as the most efficient business in the nation with annual revenues under $150 million.

Green Exploratorium: Public Engagement about Climate Change

Mary Miller, Project Director, Public Understanding of Science; Robert Semper, Executive Associate Director of the Exploratorium and Principal Investigator NSF Center for Informal Learning and Schools; Susan Schwartzenberg, Senior Artist; and Kristina Yu, Director, Living Systems, The Exploratorium


The issue of global climate change, and how humans confront it, is the most crucial issue of our time. The Exploratorium has been engaging audiences in the science of climate change for nearly a decade through Websites, live web programming, teacher professional development, livelong learning opportunities, museum  programming, and interactive exhibits that demonstrate fundamental physical properties of complex systems.

With its impending move to a waterfront location in San Francisco, the Exploratorium seeks to be the model for sustainable design and practice to reduce the impact of this catastrophic change in the earth’s environment. The new Exploratorium on Piers 15 – 17 is being designed as a demonstration project that will show other institutions and the public that highly sustainable construction and operations are achievable even in quite large projects. The Exploratorium is committed to creating a new standard in building design and operation coupled with educational programs and exhibits. Through these efforts, the Exploratorium will encourage its public to adopt and advocate for practices that will help to reverse the course of global climate change.

As the world’s first carbon-neutral museum, the Exploratorium will devote a significant portion of its program to environmental sciences and the science of global climate change. Located on the Bay, the new Exploratorium will be a perfect observation deck for real time measurements of the local, region and global effects of climate change. Efforts will build on the current Exploratorium website which has a wealth of data on the status of the geosphere, the hydrosphere, and more. This effort is being leveraged by a five-year partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced in summer 2009. The signed agreement establishes a collaboration to co-create interactive exhibits, education and public programs, Web programming, staff exchanges, visits by oceanographic vessels, research programs, professional development opportunities, data-visualization and interactive modeling projects. This unique collaboration between an informal science institution and a climate science agency will serve as an education and outreach model for other institutions, foundations, and agencies.

Promoting Climate Literacy in Atlanta: Using the Astronomical Perspective of Planet Earth

Cherilynn A. Morrow, Georgia State University and April Whitt, Fernbank Science Center and Planetarium


Georgia State University and the Fernbank Science Center and Planetarium, both located in the heart of Atlanta, have formed a new partnership whose focus is the promotion of climate literacy. The essence of our collaboration lies in the revival of a dormant professional relationship between the authors of this poster. Two years ago, Morrow joined Georgia State’s faculty as an education‐focused professor of Physics and Astronomy. She reconnected with Whitt who is a renowned planetarium educator based at Fernbank. Our new partnership has been galvanized by the opportunity to attend the AAAS climate literacy workshop. Both of us have strong histories of providing high‐quality educational experiences for science educators and their audiences. Moreover we are both keenly interested to explore novel ways to integrate Earth and space science education, and especially to communicate climate science using a broader astronomical context.

Georgia State is a research university in downtown Atlanta and academic home to an extraordinarily diverse student body of approximately 30,000 students. This past year, Georgia State was awarded a 3‐year NASA Global Climate Change Education grant1 entitled: "Creating an Enduring Legacy of Exemplary Global Climate Change Education for Secondary Science Teachers and Underserved Students in Georgia". This project will renovate the lab activities for a popular 4‐credit introductory course on weather and climate, thereby creating a compelling set of inquiry‐based resources for cultivating climate literacy among thousands of undergraduates, secondary teachers, and Early College students in Atlanta and beyond. As part of this project, co‐Investigator Jeremy Diem is installing a carbon dioxide monitor on campus – possibly the first urban monitor in the American southeast – to gather research quality data for broader educational use.

Fernbank is the only major science center in America operated by a school district. The Center offers a broad variety of innovative programming for school and public audiences. In addition to an acclaimed suite of planetarium‐based events, Fernbank’s Scientific Tools and Techniques (STT) program is a long‐standing pillar of our community. The STT program offers a semester‐long, integrated science course for 9th graders designed to provide direct experience with the tools and techniques of scientific inquiry. This highly regarded program is free of charge, and students apply to participate through their school counselors.

The Georgia State–Fernbank collaboration is evolving: so far we have identified four synergistic project ideas, all of which will be nourished via our participation in the AAAS workshop:

  1. Staff training on climate science at Fernbank facilitated by leaders of Georgia State’s NASA project;
  2. Adaptation of the NASA project’s weather & climate lab activities for use in Fernbank’s STT program;
  3. Creation of a real time (or near real time) link between CO2 monitor data and the Science Center;
  4. 4. Integration of climate science topics into public talks and planetarium programs. One new idea is called GeoJazz (modeled after Morrow’s AstroJazz) – a public education program for young and old that integrates live jazz, imagery of Earth & other worlds, and insights on the latest climate research.

In January 2010, Georgia State and Fernbank are jointly hosting the visit of Richard Somerville2 – the NASA grant’s primary science consultant. Somerville is a world‐renowned climate scientist and author of The Forgiving Air – an award‐winning popular book on climate change derived from a series of lectures he gave for teachers. Somerville will provide a public talk at Fernbank and two seminars at Georgia State.

  1. C. Morrow, Principal Investigator. Co‐Investigators are Jeremy Diem, Lisa Martin‐Hansen, and W. Crawford Elliott
  2. See for more information.
Will Steger Foundation: Educate, Inspire, Empower

Kristen Iverson Poppleton, K-12 Education Program Manager, Will Steger Foundation


Established in January 2006 by polar explorer Will Steger, the Will Steger Foundation (WSF), located in Minneapolis, MN, is dedicated to creating programs that foster international leadership and cooperation through environmental education and policy. The Will Steger Foundation has seen firsthand the dramatic effects of climate change on both the environment and the human condition through the efforts of its founder, Will Steger, who has explored the Polar Regions for 45 years. The Will Steger Foundation seeks to inspire and be a catalyst for international environmental leadership to stop global warming through exploration, education and action. The strategic goal of the Foundation’s K-12 Education program is to offer thought-provoking interaction and practical solutions for educators and students by developing and supporting them with climate change curriculum, professional development opportunities, and action resources.

This goal is realized through:

  • An educator resource binder containing four original curriculum on the basics of climate change and solutions and the arctic
  • Annual summer institutes for educators
  • A website containing a virtual library of resources and multi-media to complement the curriculum
  • Professional development and classroom visits for teachers and informal educators
Graphics can make climate data more understandable

Bob Raynolds, Research Associate, Denver Museum of Nature & Science


The published literature is replete with graphs and diagrams illustrating changing climate through time. Many different formats and presentation styles are used. More challenging, different scales and orientations of diagrams make their comparison difficult, particularly to the non specialist.

I have redrafted climate change through time curves using a common orientation and scale. I have a series of time panels illustrating change over 400 Million, 40 Million, 4 Million 400,000, 40,000, 4000, 400 and 40 years. This simplified presentation allows the viewer to quickly place our current condition in context.

By showing the climate information over diminishing windows of time I am able to discuss the transition from geological observations to modern instrumental measurements. Each frame has a set of issues of resolution, data sources, and degree of confidence.

The diagrams serve to emphasize that while the past provides perspective on our condition, the climate patterns established in the Pleistocene have been broken in the Anthropocene. We are on a new trajectory, conducting a geophysical experiment and we are inside the test tube…and it is the only one we have.

My goal is to allow audiences to see the information for themselves and to encourage them to draw their own conclusions.

Hands-On Ocean and Climate Activities in SMILE

Catherine Halverson and Joel Rosenberg, Lawrence Hall of Science


The COSIA (Communicating Ocean Sciences to Informal Audiences) Network is developing shared activities and digital resources meant to support long-term relationships between an estimated 240 ocean and climate scientists and 50-100 informal science educators across the country. The goal is to support both groups as we work towards ocean and climate literacy for all. The activities are being cataloged into the SMILE (Science and Math Informal Learning Educators) Pathway of NSDL,, which is a tool for finding and annotating free activities by science museums and afterschool programs. Our poster will explain how informal climate educators can use SMILE to find the COSIA activities, and contribute ideas and activities into the larger informal climate education community.

Join in the Climate Conversation: Museum of Science brings voices together

Julia Sable, Ph.D., Education Associate, Museum of Science, Boston


The Museum of Science, Boston ( aims to develop an informed and active citizenship and to inspire people of all ages to explore the natural and human-made world. Through new and ongoing exhibits and programs on climate, especially the areas of understanding and mitigating climate change, MOS invites participants to examine the intersection of nature, technology, and society.

Daily programming includes newly updated exhibits and live demonstrations about climate science and renewable energy. Installed in 2009, the Wind Lab tests five types of wind turbines on the Museum’s roof to explore the issues and trade-offs of wind power. A new interactive video kiosk invites visitors to weigh different energy solutions based on interviews with experts. Art exhibitions such as “Double Exposure: Photographing Global Climate Change” offer a creative and critical examination of humans’ role in nature. In addition to catering to visiting school groups, MOS brings traveling programs directly into the classrooms of regional schools.

But MOS offers more than just exhibits and interpretive activities: it also serves as an international nexus connecting researchers, educators, innovators, policy makers, students, and the general public in a dynamic exchange. Guest scientists and engineers enjoy outstanding outreach opportunities while the public enjoys direct access to experts. For “Earth Science Week” in October 2009, climate researchers from institutions throughout New England presented talks and hands-on activities in the Museum’s Gordon Current Science & Technology Center. The Forum program has gained recent acclaim for its efforts to engage scientists, policy makers, and visitors in discussions that have real bearing on public decision-making. In 2009, MOS was selected to partner with the Danish Board of Technology in World Wide Views on Global Warming, the first-ever global citizen deliberation on climate policy.

MOS is using new communication technologies to expand its reach to contributors and audiences around the world. Just before COP15 in December 2009, MOS took part in an international videoconference with experts from La Cité des Sciences in Paris and the Danish government in Copenhagen. Through recent partnerships with the International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, MOS hosted web-based and live satellite phone conversations with climate researchers doing fieldwork in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Upcoming plans include exhibits and live presentations showcasing renewable energy innovation in Massachusetts, as well as practical methods for conservation at home using examples of green initiatives at MOS. The Forum program will continue to engage laypeople and experts in productive and influential conversations, while becoming more tightly integrated with exhibits and other programs.

MOS is always looking for new opportunities for collaboration. Through partnerships with other institutions and groups in areas such as science, innovation, advocacy, and policy, we hope to bring ever more ambitious and spectacular programming to a global audience. Please contact us if you would like to collaborate!

The STEM Research Academies for Young Scientists Global Climate Change Program

Allan Feldman, Professor of Education, University of South Florida; Morton Sternheim, Director, STEM Education Institute, Hasbrouck Lab, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Susan Reyes, University of Massachusetts, Amherst STEM RAYS Afterschool Science Instructor and Northeastern Solar Energy Association; and Loubris, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, STEMRAYS Afterschool Science Instructor


UMass STEM Education Institute Climate Change Programs

The University of Massachusetts STEM Education Institute has recently been involved in two NSF funded education and outreach programs related to climate change. The first, STEM International Polar Year Professional Development Institute, is a curriculum development and teacher training program that recruits nationally for teachers and educators to participate in one week intensive workshops at UMass. It covers a variety of topics pertaining to the Polar Regions and climate change. Many of our participants are classroom teachers. A requirement of participation for the teachers is a dissemination project where they must take some of the activities and lessons they have learned during the summer institute and present them at a regional venue such as a professional conference, museum, or district-wide training. This dissemination effort has resulted in a number of outreach activities in the informal science arena, including presentations at museums, aquariums, civic groups, parent groups, conservation commissions, state parks and nature centers. Activities have included exploring the effects of albedo changes, demonstrating sea rise, modeling historic CO2 versus temperature and studying sea ice changes.

The second STEM Ed program is called STEM RAYS (STEM Research Academies for Young Scientists), originally funded by NSF but currently supported by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. STEM RAYS annually provides authentic science research opportunities to over 200 4th-8th graders in after school clubs in northwest Massachusetts. Classroom teachers gain research and content training in a science field working alongside college faculty. They then carry out their own research with their after school students that is aligned with the college faculty's research field. Research fields over the last three years have included Weather and Global Climate Change, Air Quality, Global Environmental Change and Sustainability. Teachers and their students have researched such topics as whether warming temperatures favors invasive over native plants, the most efficient blades for wind turbines, the impact of climate change on the Sugar Maple Industry, and whether energy awareness in schools can affect energy use behavior.

KQED STEM Climate Science Curriculum Project: Clue into Climate: A Digital Media-Based Curriculum Unit on Climate Change

Andrea Swensrud, Project Supervisor, Science Education-QUEST, KQED Public Broadcasting


KQED was awarded a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to support “Clue into Climate: A Digital Media-Based Curriculum Unit on Climate Change.” The goal of “Clue into Climate” is to aid middle school teachers in teaching fundamental science concepts through the lens of climate science and the use of digital media resources.

“Clue into Climate” explores how our climate is changing, the effects of climate change, and what scientists are doing to reduce our impact. The curriculum unit is comprised of sequenced digital media assets grouped into four content strands:

  1. How greenhouse gases contribute to climate change
  2. How climate change affects organisms and ecosystems
  3. The interactions between the water cycle and climate
  4. How current scientific work on alternative energies may reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and therefore reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Each content strand includes re-edited media produced by KQED, new media created specifically for this project, and corresponding text-based lesson plans and activities. The resources are aligned with California State Science Content Standards for grades 4 – 8 and illuminate the following:

  • NOAA Climate Literacy Essential Principles
  • NSF Earth Science Literacy Initiative Big Ideas
  • National Science Education Standards

KQED is currently working with a team of advisors and partners to review the curriculum unit and is piloting the digital media resources in middle school classrooms.

The curriculum will go live on in spring 2010 and will be included in a national PBS curriculum collection for STEM climate science education.

Broadening Participation Through the SoundCitizen Science Apprenticeship

Shelley Stromholt (UW) and Déana Scipio (Passages NW) for Project: SoundCitizen Science Apprenticeship Program


Our team is in the first year of an NSF funded OEDG grant project entitled SoundCitizen Science Apprenticeship Program for Minority Youth (SCSA). SCSA is a pilot partnership between the University of Washington’s School of Oceanography, the UW Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (ISME) and two non-profit organizations that do experiential leadership and adventure education with youth in Seattle. SCSA infuses research and mentorship experiences into existing out-of-school activities for first-generation immigrant, Latino and African American youth, ages 14-17, from urban neighborhoods in Seattle. Youth apprentices are working with their local community to develop their own locally relevant questions about terrestrial, riverine and marine chemistry and water quality, and investigate these in collaboration with UW scientists. They are forming relationships with scientists, undergraduate and graduate students, and community leaders; and learning about careers in the sciences. Youth apprentices in this program are developing their own research questions and investigations through guided inquiry and by working with the SCSA partners and their community members in order to root their research in areas of local concern and interest. An ongoing relationship with the UW Program on Climate Change, with several active joint proposals in the works, positions us to expand this project in future years to focus more specifically on the science of climate change and the local implications that will engage our community.

Poster Purpose:
The purpose of our poster is to highlight the collaboration of partner agencies implementing this interdisciplinary project. As a result of sharing our poster at the Climate Literacy Conference, we hope to share our model for engaging youth in authentic scientific endeavors and get feedback on how to be better prepared to support climate related interests as they arise in the apprentices’ research investigations.

Contact: Shelley Stromholt (, University of Washington

COSI’s Energy and Environment Area of Focus: An Approach to Teaching about Global Climate Change

Sharon Tinianow, Director of Sustainability Initiatives, and Amy Parker, Battelle Master Educator, COSI


Global climate change is a topic that is both urgent and controversial. Public understanding of this issue varies widely across audiences. What role can a science center play in increasing public understanding about global climate change? To address this question, COSI (Center for Science and Industry) in Columbus, OH, is developing an approach to exhibits and programs that incorporates teaching critical thinking skills, social learning, and family learning. Exhibit design strategies for new experiences include flexible exhibit platforms that can be easily updated as new information becomes available. Partnerships with research institutes and companies on the forefront of developing technologies are an essential part of the plan. Sustainability concepts will be presented in visitor experiences and practiced in museum operations. Building on what science centers do best – engaging diverse audiences in exploration of science – COSI aims to empower personal action to create a sustainable world. The poster will share the conceptual underpinnings of the Energy and Environment Master & Interpretive Plan, recently completed with Quatrefoil and Associates.

NASA Climate Change Resources for Informal Educators

Lora V. Bleacher, Senior Outreach Coordinator, NASA Goddard/SSAI


NASA's Earth Science Research Program focuses on understanding the Earth system and its response to natural and human-induced changes. Its space-based perspective allows scientists to observe changes and interactions within the Earth system on a global scale. This poster will present information on how to access the latest NASA climate data and images, ongoing climate change education programs for informal audiences, and available funding sources for proposing your own climate change education program.