Innovative climate science grant connects classroom instruction to real-world issues

Innovative climate science grant connects classroom instruction to real-world issues

Teachers at Goose Point Oysters in October learning how our changing climate is effecting this local oyster farm

With the recently released U.S. Climate Report containing alarming data about climate change, ESD (Educational Services District) 112 is working to help educate teachers and ultimately students about the issue. Using the cutting-edge $3 million climate science grant from Governor Inslee, ESD 112’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) experts are using their local allocation of over $300,000 to offer a series of free teacher trainings and seminars. These trainings support K-12 educators in SW Washington to develop learning opportunities for students that connect the work of scientists and the real effects of a shifting climate on local businesses with classroom curriculum. This grant, named ClimeTime, along with an additional $1 million for partnering non-profits, makes Washington the first state in the country to dedicate significant funding for climate science education and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

“Our approach to a global issue is very unique,” said Vickei Hrdina, ESD 112’s STEM director. “By teaching our teachers about the local impacts of a changing climate, we can better educate our students on how their actions can affect positive change.”

Teacher Engagement

Throughout 2018-2019 school year, ESD 112 is offering six one-day externships for teachers, developed in collaboration with local climate-related STEM businesses or organizations. Participating teachers will spend the day visiting businesses and learning about the impacts of climate change on their work followed by small grade-level team collaboration to develop a classroom task based on their new learning.

The next externship is Friday, December 7th. Teachers will visit the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, and several of their partners, to learn about careers in green technology and entrepreneurial nonprofits, including how climate science is increasing the need for more sustainable energy solutions.

There are also six STEM seminars being offered this school year, in which scientists and researchers present the impacts of climate change on their work to a group of teachers.

Student Engagement

In addition to teacher trainings, ClimeTime will provide two opportunities for student engagement in the spring:

  • Women in STEM, March 2019 – Regional 4th-8th grade students will be invited to participate in a fun, interactive day of STEM activities and presentations for girls, highlighting women in climate-related careers.
  • Watershed and Climate Congress, May 2019 – The Water Resource Center, Harney Elementary STEM Fair team, and ESD 112 will invite students to share climate-related projects and regional STEM Fairs.

Partners and collaborators for these events include Washington Green Schools, Climate Impacts Group at University of Washington, Cascade Volcano Observatory, Water Resource Center, Friends of Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, Pacific Education Institute, Clark County Public Health, Goose Island Oysters, Mount St. Helen’s Institute, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Clark County PUD, and SW Clean Air Agency.

About the Climate Science Grant

All nine Educational Service Districts (ESDs) in Washington are launching programs for science teacher training around Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and climate science, thanks to grant money made available to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) by Governor Inslee. The ESDs are sharing $3 million from the state’s general fund for teacher professional development, development of instructional materials and student events and an additional $1 million provided to community-based nonprofits to partner with public schools around NGSS.