Climate Change for Kids (and their teachers) Bruce Larson Enrichment Coordinator Stratham Memorial School Stratham, New Hampshire
‘Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.’ Attributed to Samuel Clemens
Blizzard of 1978 (Boston) Was this weather or climate? Ice storm of 2008
Activity: Interview the person next to you about extreme weather events they have experienced. Have they noticed any changes in their local climate during their lifetime? Time: 6+ minutes
In February 2007, an international panel of experts (the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change) concluded: -Global warming is occurring. -Increase in global temperature is a result of human activities. -Given current trends, temperature extremes, heat waves, and heavy rains will continue to escalate in frequency. -The Earth’s temperature and seas will continue to rise into the next millennium.
As adults, we begin to wonder what is going on… Our students are experiencing extreme weather at an age where they will begin to believe that is the normal state of the climate. It isn’t!
Teachers have a responsibility to teach our students how to observe events with perspective and expose them to the tools they will need to understand those events. Common terminology, age appropriate activities and a progression of insightful experiences will prepare our charges to make hard decisions as adults.
Activity: Word Loop. Find the person who has the card which answers your question. Someone will be looking for your word! Time: 6+ minutes
Defining terms: Global Warming or Climate Change?
In the past we used the term ‘Global Warming’ to draw attention to some of the possible consequences of increased temperature, such as sea level rise and glacial ice melt. Record snowfall in some areas coupled with cold rain and floods made intuitive nonsense of the term. ‘Climate Change’ allows for explanations and understandings of complex interactions which sometimes yield contradictory events. A greater understanding of how Earth systems interact in a dynamic way is required to make some sense out of observed weather and climate data.
Weather is what we experience on a day to day basis and what guides our daily outfit and plans for local travel and recreation…
K-Grade 1: Observing how hot or cold it is outside. Observing and naming precipitation. Discussing clothing choices. Looking at thermometers and what they are used for
K-Grade 1: Observing how hot or cold it is outside. Observing and naming precipitation. Discussing clothing choices. Looking at thermometers and what they are used for Grades 2-3: Recording precipitation type, cloud cover, hours of daylight and sunrise/sunset, and temperature.
K-Grade 1: Observing how hot or cold it is outside. Observing and naming precipitation. Discussing clothing choices. Looking at thermometers and what they are used for Grades 2-3: Recording precipitation type, cloud cover, hours of daylight and sunrise/sunset, and temperature. Grades 4-5: Observing and recording cloud types, temperature, wind speed, and relative humidity. Introduction to barometric pressure and layers of the atmosphere. Introduction to composition of air.
Climate is the average of daily weather parameters over many years and characterizes seasons as well as geography.
K-1: Observe seasons through weather events and natural history changes. Awareness of diurnal cycle
K-1: Observe seasons through weather events and natural history changes. Awareness of diurnal cycle Gr. 2-3: Observe and study animal adaptations to seasonal change and local climate Introduce Earth-Moon-Sun relationship Track hours of daylight vs. seasons Observe and study animal migrations (Journey North)
K-1: Observe seasons through weather events and natural history changes. Awareness of diurnal cycle Gr. 2-3: Observe and study animal adaptations to seasonal change and local climate Introduce Earth-Moon-Sun relationship Track hours of daylight vs. seasons Observe and study animal migrations (Journey North) Gr. 4-5: Introduce local climate data/graphing Introduce graphs of CO2 over time Introduce ice core projects/graphs Introduce orbital variations in Earth-Sun rel. Discuss human role in climate change Climate change and other cultures
Gr. 4-5: Study extreme weather events - plot hurricane tracks Exposure to basic disaster preparedness (with a regional flavor) Instill a sense of service and sharing with others who are suffering from the results of natural disasters.
Connecting students to the world must become a priority. Without a sense of global ownership, the innovation, sacrifice,and sharing of the burden for change cannot occur.
Practical Action is a UK based service organization which has an excellent Website (Climate Choices) for grades 3-5… http://www.practicalaction.org.uk/?id=whoweare http://www.climatechoices.org.uk/pages/aboutpage.htm
Activity: Comparing Weather in Different Parts of the World Take a few minutes to look over the graph in your packet and discuss some of the student questions with a neighbor.
Climate Change Benchmarks for Elementary Students: (In your packet…) Plotting hours of daylight (primary students) http://www.sunrisesunset.com/ Monarch migration dates http://www.learner.org/jnorth/ Robin Migration dates http://www.learner.org/jnorth/ Tulip/Crocus emergence dates and growth rates http://www.learner.org/jnorth/ 'Ice out' dates for local lakes and streams – some have years of records to graph http://me.water.usgs.gov/iceout.html Bud break for different tree species – annual records from cooperative extension Insect borne diseases like Lymes, Equine Encephalitis, and West Nile are moving north due to warmer temperatures increasing the ranges of their hosts Warmer weather tree parasites are driving species such as the sugar maple northward (ex. Massachusetts) The paper birch range is shifting north as it is not well suited to the longer periods of warmer weather. Marine mammal beachings – water temperature link? 'Red tide' algal blooms – water temperature link? Tracking and discussing extreme weather events
Weather adds up to climate over time and climate informs weather predictions - they are connected through time and dependent on place. In order to understand climate change, students must have an understanding of both weather and climate. More resources at www.lmnts.org
The term ‘Greenhouse effect’ has been inaccurately used to describe how infrared absorbing gases acted as a blanket to trap heat on a global scale. A real greenhouse simply keeps warmed air from blowing away from the darker, sun warmed surfaces where you want to grow plants.