Making It Local
You may want to give students the opportunity to apply environmental awareness to their school and to their local community. Climate literacy is enhanced when students have the chance to find out about issues that affect their own neighborhoods.
These suggestions work well in an environmental club setting, for class projects, or for student extra credit suggestions. Some could be worked into extended student research projects. These types of supplementary activities often increase interest in a field that leads students to consider career paths that they might not have considered.
- Find out where and how the school, community, or city gets its water and power, how it disposes of sewage and garbage, and what trends in land development, preservation, and conservation prevail in the area.
- Join the environmental organization or club on your campus or start one if there isn’t one now.
- Learn the common names of trees and other plants, birds, and mammals found in your area. What is the predominant kind of plant? This is important to understanding and describing an actual ecosystem. Some ecosystems are named according to the dominant plant. For example, do you live in a deciduous, coniferous, or mixed deciduous forest? Then, give a presentation on your ecosystem to students in younger grade levels.
- Consider small animals, birds, butterflies, and other wildlife that might be present in your yard or school if not for human-created limited factors. Begin a project to create natural habitats that will attract and support additional wildlife.
- Select a current environmental issue related to global warming or endangered species and write congresspersons to express concern. Ask for their support for legislation that effectively addresses the issues.
- Discuss how they would continue their education in a profession that is important for environmental concerns. (Have students discuss environmental career options after they finish the problem-based learning module. What careers were involved in the information and data they researched?)
- Find out how the school recycles. Ask school administrators if they could make short public service announcements during regularly scheduled school announcements to encourage students to recycle and recognize the necessity for environmental activism.
- Start a column on the school’s website on environmental topics that may be local or global. Allow the students a certain amount of freedom on their topics or issues, but have them submit the article to you to be posted.
Obviously, these suggestions require some mentoring by you. It will be well worth the time and energy you give to advise the next generation of climate literate citizens. Lobby colleagues for help if you need it and mentor a group of future environmental activists!