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Exploring Climate Change through Students’ Place Connections and Public Data Sets

Science Scope—May/June 2024 (Volume 47, Issue 3)

By Kathryn Lanouette, Krista Cortes, Lisette Lopez, Michael Bakal, Michelle Wilkerson

Climate change is a pressing societal challenge. It is also a pedagogical challenge and a worldwide phenomenon, whose local impacts vary across different locations. Climate change reflects global inequity; communities that contribute most to emissions have greater economic resources to shelter from its consequences, while the lowest emitters are most vulnerable. It is scientifically complex, and simultaneously evokes deep emotions. These overlapping issues call for new ways of science teaching that center personal, social, emotional, and historical dimensions of the crisis. In this article, we describe a middle school science curriculum approach that invites students to explore large-scale data sets and author their own data stories about climate change impacts and inequities by blending data and narrative texts. Students learn about climate change in ways that engage their personal and cultural connections to place; engage with complex causal relationships across multiple variables, time, and space; and voice their concerns and hopes for our climate futures. Connections to relevant science, data science, and literacy standards are outlined, along with relevant data sets and assessments.

Climate Science Curriculum Multilingual Learners Middle School

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