Climate Change & K-12 Classrooms: Ideas and Projects


“We are a free program that interacts with the teachers. We bring them resources, hands-on tools, training materials speakers and scientist to go to the schools so the teachers get what they want, right into their curriculum. We want to help them teach the science standards; state and national,” said Karen Severin, Green Power Program Administrator.

Karen Severin:

I’m working with six teachers right now, to build some science boxes, there are a lot of teachers asking for information about climate change. So I don’t get the feeling that it’s a, “don’t talk about subject,” like you hear in the news. Teachers want the information and the ones that I have talk to are very excited that Rajan Chakrabarty (Climate101) is going to put together a workshop for next summer. I think that they are very receptive, they want the information and they want to feel comfortable teaching it. I try to bring them topics that they want to learn about. We are non-profit. We are a free program that interacts with the teachers. We bring them resources, hands-on tools, training materials speakers and scientist to go to the schools so the teachers get what they want, right into their curriculum. We want to help them teach the science standards; state and national. We are just a resource for them to get what they need to teach their students. My biggest block is elementary.

Interviewer: In the Washoe county area as well?

Karen Severin:

Yes, I think throughout the program, elementary teachers. I find it interesting because I am told by teachers that they do not teach a lot of science. I think they are really looking for something that they can use.

I just met Rajan Chakrabarty about a month ago. It was really new to me. I’ve started going through it and I’d like feedback from the teachers. I don’t teach younger students, I teach college aged students. So I really look for them for feedback. As we work with them, we just started a new school year, I put it in our e-newsletter, and I put the link in there and suggested that everyone check it out. We are going to focus on, every time we get together; we have monthly workshops with teachers. I want Rajan to come to our annual trainings that we have. One up here and one in the south; we bring in experts, we do hands-on.

Sierra Nevada Journeys, Envirolutions, are our big partners; we try to bring in something new every year. They are very helpful with funding. Rajan Chakrabarty will certainly be a part of our annual trainings so we can get the teachers. I am going to push it every time I communicate with them to check it out and look at it. And then we can give him some feedback. Another scientist that is working on it is Michelle Breckner. She works in the same area as Rajan although she does not work directly with him; she is more analyzing the climate change data. She is very eager to work with Green Power. She is going to help and add some Nevada components to his web site. I think that it will be helpful to incorporate Nevada weather as well. Maybe some statistics, historical data and she wants to develop some little quizzes and hands-on things that the teachers can get the students to do. I liked his web site because it was very easy to understand.

I am not sure about elementary school but I thought it would be easy for middle and high school aged kids to look at the videos and to listen and get a better understanding. We would love to work with anybody. I think that would be great to get a work shop with Sierra Nevada Journeys to get a coffee meet-and-greet with the scientist; to bring a scientist in to talk about what he does. Just different topics because at DRI we have all of that; land, air, water. Rajan has volunteered to be the first. But something like that were we can say that the stuff is out there. You may not know about it but here it is. Teacher just don’t know that it is out there and they don’t have the time to try and find it on their own. Little activities that they can do in the classroom to help spark their interests, hands-on it the best way.

I have a website; I just worked with the web master today to get a page set up just for Green Power teachers. So that resources like Rajan or you guys or anybody else that we find can be put on there and the teachers can use it as a one-stop-shop. I find a lot of lesson plans and curriculum from the Department of Energy or other schools throughout the country that are really good so I like to post them on there. Bio-energy, how to build a barometer and other stuff like that so the teachers don’t have to take the time to look for it, I know they don’t have the time. We have a page just for Green Power teachers with tabs and events and other things that are going on. There is a resource page for lesson plans curriculum, partner groups have lesson plans that they give out and other information. Before it used to be in binder but now we want to get away from the paper and give them a place to go and find it. That’s what it will be, a link on here. Then we can branch them out to anyone that we can find. Anything that I see that is interesting I post it for them to take advantage of it.

I wanted to use my page as a tool to direct people; here is the entire link so they can go to them. I know Rajan is going to put Green Power on his website and I am going to add his to mine, right on the front. A lot of scientists like Rajan don’t know about Green Power and what we do so we are a big outreach component and maybe we can help them with some of their grants too. Some programs don’t know how to outreach and we can help them do that and then spread the word. Plus get out more scientific information and maybe get them to work with us like Rajan is. We have people working on solar, wind and water resources. They have all kinds of data but how do we get it to the different levels.

Sierra Nevada Journeys, Urban Roots and Envirolutions are all a part of Green Nevada and the website. Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, I just met with them and they have a Waste Warrior program where they go to the elementary schools and teach kids what happened to things they put into the trash. Where it goes and how does it impact, what can you do with trash. There are activities they do with the kids where they can show how straws don’t decompose. They are another great organization. Can we make this better or more interesting; hit them at a level where they understand and they begin to want to know more instead of just reading about it or watching a video. Why waste out time when someone is already doing it, let’s take advantage of it.


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