Educating for Environmental Change

Breaking climate science education barriers

Elementary and secondary school teachers learn how to educate young Hoosiers about climate change and related issues at the Educating for Environmental Change Summer Science Institute. Indiana Environmental Reporter

The Problem

Surveys show high levels of support in Indiana and the US for teaching children about the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to global warming. But in order to effectively educate students about climate change and its causes, teachers must overcome multiple obstacles, including misinformation in the media and a lack of grade-appropriate resources that meet state education standards.

The Project

Educating for Environmental Change (EfEC), a collaboration between IU faculty, K-12 educators, and the WonderLab Museum of Science, Health, and Technology addresses these challenges by providing professional development programs for K-12 educators to effectively teach the science and policy of environmental change.

Utilizing hands-on labs and activities co-developed by ERI, IU environmental scientists, the School of Education, the WonderLab Museum, and veteran science teachers, EfEC is deepening educator understanding of key concepts related to environmental change, including how scientists know the climate is changing, how humans are accelerating these changes, the impacts of these changes, and steps to mitigate the severity and impact of climate change.

Since 2017, more than 150 teachers have attended professional development workshops. Collectively, these teachers have reached more than 15,000 students since the workshops began. In 2020, IU organizers adapted the workshops for an online setting.

Participating teachers consistently report the workshops increase their understanding of climate change and that they expect to apply what they learned in their own classrooms. In September 2020, EfEC received Indiana’s top environmental award for “extraordinary initiatives in protecting the environment.”

The Path Forward

EfEC continues to offer three-day summer science workshops each year and several one-day workshops during the academic year. After starting a dialogue with the Indiana Department of Education in 2020, EfEC team members are participating on a standards revision committee to improve Indiana science education standards on climate change.