Green Teens: Taking Climate Change by Storm!

Official Dosomething.org Project

The Problem

There is a plethora of information about global warming available on the Internet, television, and other popular media sources. These forms of communication primarily target two main audiences: educated adults and elementary school children. There is a gap in the amount of climate change information available to junior high and high school-aged students. While it is important to target younger children while they are still forming their values and worldviews, environmental education is ineffective if it is not continuous throughout other levels of schooling. Youth are more likely to understand and relate to global warming issues if they are addressed at the junior high and high school levels, in addition to elementary school. The population we are working with, in Poudre School District in Colorado, is diverse in many ways. The district includes students from Fort Collins, Laporte, Timnath, Wellington, Red Feather, Livermore, Stove Prairie, and Windsor, covering 1856 square miles in total. Students from these various cities and towns represent an array of social, economic, geographic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. According to the PSD profile, 1.9 percent of students consider themselves African American, 3.2 percent Asian or Pacific Islander, 15 percent Hispanic or Latino, 1.1 percent Native American or Alaskan, and 78.8 percent Caucasian. Twenty-four percent of elementary school students in the district participate in free or reduced-price lunch programs. English is the primary language spoken in all PSD junior high schools, but some schools have English as a Second Language or English Language Acquisition programs. Special Education programs serve 9.6 percent of PSD students in some capacity.

Plan of Action

Beginning with a project for our college capstone class, we developed an educational campaign for local middle school students about climate change. Our program, called Green Teens, will be a week-long program educating about the scientific and social concepts of cliamte change. We researched background information and our local community, developed a curriculum, and created informational materials and a press release. Now we're ready to pilot our program in a local middle school! The Green Teens program focuses on current environmental issues by integrating educational activities and lessons into each of the core curriculum classes: math, science, social studies, geography, reading and writing, as well as art and physical education. Demonstrations of eco-friendly technologies and behaviors will show the students strategies for reducing their carbon consumption and environmental impact. Students will receive bike “bumper” stickers and reusable lunch bags as incentives to practice more sustainable daily behaviors. These lessons and incentives will ensure that the campaign has a lasting effect on the students’ awareness of climate change concepts and environmental attitudes and behaviors. We're looking forward to getting in the classrooms and making the vision for this program a reality!

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