Initial Publication Date: September 18, 2020

Ground Students in Place-Based Learning

Engage students in authentic learning, inquiry, and research within their local environments and communities. Have students speak with local community members about how climate change impacts the local community and identify real-world issues and needs to formulate actions that they can take to help their community respond to climate change. Connect students with the local community by going on nature walks; taking them on field trips to nearby parks and environmental education centers; and inviting guest speakers from your municipality, local businesses, research centers, and tribal communities.

Many resources in the CLEAN collection encourage inquiry in their local environments:

Link student observations to their prior knowledge and experiences and those of their communities. Can you link a sea-level lesson with a previous trip to the beach? Draw upon the experiences of others who have lived in the region longer, such as a parent or grandparent, by having students ask them how they have noticed the environment changing over time.

Use real, local data to engage students in studying weather and climate patterns in their city. Support students to collect their own data or use maps and online weather data from their region. Encourage students to play in and explore the outdoors surrounding their neighborhoods. What observations can they make about their environment? What do they notice? What do they wonder? What changes do they notice across several days, months, or seasons?

Having students help with a citizen science project is an excellent way to engage students in data collection that contributes to authentic scientific research efforts. In citizen science, members of the general public help to collect and analyze scientific data, often in connection with members of the science community. Citizen science can help students develop identities as scientists and scientifically literate individuals. As a way to add agency and choice, invite students to choose which projects they would like to contribute to.

Encouraging exploration of the outdoors is a particularly useful activity for students to do while they are participating in remote or hybrid learning during the current pandemic. Consider sharing these resources with families:

There are many citizen science projects related to climate science in which students can collect data from anywhere in the nation:

  • Globe Observerhas you download an app to submit regular observations. The focus is on clouds, mosquitoes, and land cover.
  • CoCoRaHS, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, asks volunteers to take precipitation measurements every time it rains, hails, or snows their area. Anyone can participate as long as they are excited about weather and have a rain gauge.
  • iNaturalist asks volunteers to send photos of flora and fauna to document the biodiversity of the world. It has specific projects as well as a daily observation.
  • Budburst is a program that has different projects throughout the year. The project's themes revolve around flowers, plants, and their ecosystems.