You may have already observed outcomes of global climate change in your region, whether in falling butterfly populations, damaged pine forests, or disrupted bird migration patterns. ASTC’s Communicating Climate Change works with science centers and partnering scientific research sites to develop local indicators of climate change in 12 locations across the United States.
Our project fosters innovative partnerships between research centers, the media, and science centers, supporting the development of citizen science programs, public forums, and other activities. To learn more about these projects, visit our Resource Center or read about our partners’ local programs.
C3 News Blog
September 2nd, 2010
By Michaela Labriole
When it comes to teaching young learners about climate change, educators have to walk a fine line. After all, the scientific data on climate change and its potential effects can seem scary and overwhelming, and we don’t want to intimidate children. But at the same time, we don’t want to over-simplify or provide incorrect information. Because walking this line often seems daunting, many people think that it isn’t possible or appropriate to teach young students about climate change. At the New York Hall of Science, however, we interviewed our teenage interns and found that these students want to know more about climate change and are confused by the conflicting media reports about what is happening to Earth’s climate.
At NYSCI, the education department took on the challenge of creating a program that would be accessible to families with young children, but at the same time provide real scientific information. To meet this challenge, we created the Citizen Scientists: Tree Trackers! program as part of our C3 project. Families and individuals were invited to NYSCI for a fun, hands-on training. During the training, we started with the basic difference between climate and weather. Even our youngest trainees were able to tell us what the weather was like during the different seasons. We then talked about how the climate might be changing locally and went on a nature walk to explore the local Flushing Meadows Corona Park to look for living things that might be affected by climate change. By the end of the training, our citizen scientists had learned how to make observations about life cycle changes in local trees and upload their observations to the Project Budburst website. We even had time for our youngest Tree Trackers to make a bird feeder.
After the training, participants are still able to keep in touch via our social networking site where they can talk, upload pictures, and find fun family activities to do while they are out making their observations. By combining hands-on activities and crafts with the basics of climate science, we created a program that was fun for even very young learners but also incorporated real science and citizen participation. This is just one of the ways that NYSCI is working to communicate climate change, but it goes to show that even young children can become involved in learning more about our climate and working to mitigate climate change.
Michaela Labriole is a science instructor at the New York Hall of Science, Queens.
August 31st, 2010
By Kerry Stevison
Twelve teenagers from the Youth Exploring Science (YES) Program at the Saint Louis Science Center are using their citizen science projects to learn more about climate change in their own area. The teens were recruited for the YES Program from various community groups in St. Louis that work with underserved populations. Once in the program, the teens choose a component and get to work using science to benefit themselves and society. Those working on the climate change project are studying the effects on frogs and butterflies.
Frogs, especially, are suffering around the globe right now. Climate change is affecting them in three ways: by altering the timing of their calls in spring (Gibbs and Breisch, 2001), by causing ponds in some areas to dry up (McMenamin et al., 2008), and by aiding the global spread of the lethal chytrid fungus (Pounds et al., 2006). These problems compound the already precipitous amphibian declines around the world.
The teens make trips to a nearby pond on Saturday evenings during the spring and record frog calls. Their data is entered into FrogWatch, a nationwide database for frog research. After three years of gathering data, they will analyze their results. The teens also spread the word about climate change through activities in the Saint Louis Science Center, summer programs for children, and even a professional development workshop for teachers.
You can learn more about FrogWatch by visiting their Website.
Kerry Stevison is a senior educator at the Saint Louis Science Center, St. Louis, Missouri.
August 9th, 2010
By Eileen Everett
According to a 2006 study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the food we consume has big impacts on the environment, specifically through climate change. Anywhere from 15-30% of human-caused greenhouse gases comes from the production of food. Greenhouse gases are emitted at all levels of food production from fertilizing the land to applying pesticides to harvesting crops to refrigeration to transporting food to the grocery store. Growing different food items requires different resources. For example, producing a cheeseburger puts 11 times more greenhouses gases into our atmosphere than producing a chicken noodle soup. Choosing a beef and cheese burrito causes over 17 times more greenhouse gases in its production than a rice and bean burrito.
A simple step to reducing your food carbon footprint is to buy more locally grown products and eat fewer meat and dairy products. Buying food produced locally not only tastes fresh, but contributes to local economies. Visiting local farms or farmer’s markets is one way to access local food sources. On average, more resources and more greenhouse gases are emitted in the production of animal products. One study (Weber and Matthews 2008) found that by cutting meat out of a person’s diet one day a week, their greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by the equivalent of driving 1,160 fewer miles a year. Food writer Michael Pollan has stated that if all American households eliminated meat from one dinner per week, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be equivalent to taking 30 to 40 million cars off of our roads. We choose what to eat several times a day and looking at what is on the end of our forks is one big step towards reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately reducing our contribution to climate change.
To find out what your food carbon footprint is, visit www.eatlowcarbon.org.
Eileen Everett is a Climate Change Educator at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Albuquerque.
March 1st, 2010
Physicist John Cook of SkepticalScience has developed an iPhone app that provides answers to common questions about climate change.
I downloaded the app this morning, and after a short test-run, it seems fairly comprehensive and easy to use. The questions are divided into the categories “It’s not happening”, “It’s not us”, and “It’s not bad,” each of which features complaints ranging from the classics (“Glaciers are growing!”) to the latest issues with the IPCC (“They were wrong about the Amazon rainforest!”). The answer provided to each of these assertions includes a short talking point, followed by a longer, more detailed, fully cited (with links!) explanation of the science.
The Guardian has a more extensive review, but this could be a good tool for audiences who just want to know what to say when confronted with questions about the science. Let us know what you think of it.
February 18th, 2010
The Inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival is looking for participants in its October 23rd & 24th Washington, DC Expo and for additions to its list of satellite festivals being held across the country.
The event is the country’s first national science festival, and the Expo on the National Mall will feature more than 500 US science and engineering organizations, each with a different hands-on science activity. To register for the Expo, or to learn how you can organize a satellite festival at your own organization, visit them online, follow them on Twitter, or join their Facebook group.
February 16th, 2010
AAAS is holding a guest blogging contest for attendants of its annual meeting in San Diego next week.
I won’t be there, but any C3 participants interested in submitting a post should check out the detailed rules here.
February 16th, 2010
For those of you fielding questions about the recent round(s) of criticism directed at the IPCC, ScienceInsider has a good summary of each point of contention, as well reactions from the IPCC and other scientists.
It’s a brief piece, but includes lots of useful links.
February 12th, 2010
NNOAA launched its new climate portal this month, including an online magazine called Climate Watch that features an article those of you experiencing abnormally cool weather this winter might want to check out.
The site is still in prototype mode, and even though navigating it is tedious at times, a lot of the information it contains is worth the effort. The presentation library in the “Understanding Climate” tab might be particularly useful to those of you looking for teaching tools. It features several ready-to-use presentations on topics from human contributions to global warming to how scientists create and use climate models. There are more professional development activities and teaching resources in the “Education” tab.
There’s a lot of information on the site, and we still haven’t made it through all of it. We’d encourage you to try out some of the tools offered, and be sure to let us know what you find useful.
January 20th, 2010
NOAA has announced funding opportunities for informal/nonformal science education projects through their Environmental Literacy Grants (ELG) Program. A previous recipient of ELG funding, The Ocean Project, recently released a report called America, the Ocean, and Climate Change: New Research Insights for Conservation, Awareness, and Action. Their summary of key findings offers some insight into the type of project funded by this program as well as useful information for C3 partners addressing ocean issues. More information below (and on NOAA’s website), but note the following deadlines:
An informational teleconference with the program officers will occur on January 21, 2010 at3:30 PM EST. Interested applicants are required to register and will receive the call-in information by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org and include in the Subject line of the email: “Interested in FFO Teleconference – Need Details.” Please provide the interested parties’ names, institutions and telephone numbers in the body of the message.
Letters of Intent are required. The deadline for letters of intent is 5:00 PM EST February 16, 2010.
The deadline for full applications is 5:00 PM EDT on April 6, 2010.
Additional Information on Funding Opportunity
NOAA’s Office of Education (OEd) has issued a request for applications for informal/nonformal science education projects that engage the public in activities that utilize emerging and/or advanced technologies and leverage NOAA assets to improve understanding and stewardship of the local and global environment. There is specific interest in projects that use emerging and/or advanced technologies to (1) facilitate outdoor experiences involving scientific inquiry and exploration of the natural world apart from formal K-12 curricula and (2) visualize, display, and interpret data to improve understanding and provide a systems perspective of Earth’s dynamic processes. All projects must focus on one or more of the following informal/nonformal science education activities:
- Technologically facilitated outdoor experiential learning for youth and adults;
- Public participation in science related to one or more of NOAA’s mission goals;
- Exhibitions and online programs allowing the visualization and exploration of data supporting the interpretation of ocean, coastal, Great Lakes, weather and climate sciences for public audiences;
- Spherical display system (including NOAA’s Science On a Sphere) installations and programming; and
- Professional development programs and training programs for informal/nonformal education staff.
January 7th, 2010
This is an older post on Technology Review, but it’s an interesting take from the head of MIT’s Synthetic Neurobiology Group on the benefits of public participation in science.
The essence of the piece isn’t anything you haven’t already heard from Rick and Jennifer, but I thought this passaged described rather nicely why citizen science is such an important component of this project:
Involvement of the public in the act of science would shape the kind of science being done, perhaps increasing the impact of science on daily life. Community involvement in the act of research would also make science more understandable, and perhaps more familiar, to the public, because people would be engaged in its framing and communication. What better way to increase scientific literacy, make the benefits of science clear, and quell myths and spread facts than to give all people a stake in the act of discovering science? Maybe the way the world sees some currently controversial topics–stem cells, climate change, energy sources–would be different if more people engaged in the act of testing hypotheses and examining data. Community participation in science would also be enormously personally enriching, providing exercise in thinking and problem solving (something that is useful in all problem domains, throughout life) and empowering people to contribute directly to the betterment of society in a broadly impactful way.