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Food and Climate Change Curriculum

Alana Siegner

Comprehensive curriculum/unit to teach how food systems affect climate change. Strong use of real data is embedded throughout. Full lessons, mini-lessons, and short videos are presented.

This series of 6 lessons each take one 45 minute class period.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Curricula supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Performance Expectation, 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 1 Cross Cutting Concept, 6 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 3 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Reducing human vulnerability to and impacts on climate requires multi-disciplinary, integrated understanding
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
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Greenhouse gas reduction and carbon dioxide sequestration to mitigate climate change
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
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Strategies of human adaptation to climate change
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
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Humans can take action
About Teaching Climate Literacy
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Biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases / Carbon cycle
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2d
Equilibrium and feedback loops in climate system
About Teaching Principle 2
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Climate is complex
About Teaching Climate Literacy
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Biosphere drives the global carbon cycle
About Teaching Principle 3
Other materials addressing 3e
Life affects climate; climate affects life
About Teaching Climate Literacy
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Climate is variable
About Teaching Climate Literacy
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Our understanding of climate
About Teaching Climate Literacy
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Evidence shows that human-caused global warming have impacted ecosystem resulting in reduced biodiversity and ecological resilience
About Teaching Principle 6
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Humans affect climate
About Teaching Climate Literacy
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Increased acidity of oceans and negative impacts on food chain due to increasing carbon dioxide levels
About Teaching Principle 7
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Ecosystems on land and in the ocean have been and will continue to be disturbed by climate change
About Teaching Principle 7
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Human health and well-being will be affected to different degrees from the impacts from climate change
About Teaching Principle 7
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Climate change has consequences
About Teaching Climate Literacy
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Energy Literacy

Energy decisions are influenced by economic factors.
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5.4 Economic factors.
Energy decisions are influenced by environmental factors.
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5.6 Environmental factors.
Energy decisions are influenced by social factors.
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5.7 Social Factors.
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Energy decisions are influenced by several factors.
Food is a biofuel used by organisms to acquire energy for internal living processes.
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3.2 Food is a biofuel.
Humans live within Earth's ecosystems.
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3.6 Humans live within Earth's ecosystems..
Biological processes depend on energy flow through the Earth system.
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Biological processes depend on energy flow.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • This curriculum works best in a school or community garden to make it more relevant to students. The lessons can be implemented without a garden, but having the garden for students helps them make connections and makes this curriculum easier to implement.
  • Teachers should try a few of the activities to see which will be most relevant for their students and which they are able to implement.
  • Teachers should be aware they may need to do some research and aid students in the final sustainability project, as this is more involved than the other activities.

About the Science

  • This curriculum is a short unit that can be used to teach about climate change in a school or community garden setting. The activities in Lessons 1-3 describe the science behind global warming and CO2 rise and make connections with agriculture and food science. The activities in Lessons 4-6 allow students to explore the role of climate change in their own school garden and how to make their own garden more sustainable.
  • Lesson 1 introduces the topic of greenhouse gases and the greenhouse effect, the difference between weather and climate and how these interact with the garden.
  • Lesson 2 explores carbon emissions and the carbon cycle and how these relate to the garden.
  • Lesson 3 explores the national climate assessment and how farms are enacting sustainability measures.
  • Lesson 4 allows students to explore climate change indicators in their garden.
  • Lesson 5 explores adaptation and mitigation and ways students can mitigate climate change.
  • Lesson 6 is a culminating project that asks students to enact a mitigation strategy at their school.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • This curriculum is a series of small lessons/activities that can be implemented in a school garden to address climate change. Different teaching strategies are utilized, including a lot of discussion questions that can be explored through think-pair-share or through journal entries, a jigsaw activity, guest speakers, videos, data collection in the garden, games, experiments, and a problem-based final project. Teachers are given options if they aren't able to implement all of the activities. The curriculum leads up to a final project that asks students to implement a sustainability strategy in their school or garden.
  • This activity allows students to do these activities in and around their own school and school garden. These place-based activities may help engage more underserved groups in participation. None of the content excludes any SES level. It can be utilized by urban, suburban and rural populations. Some activities involve "farming" for example, interview a farmer, which could be difficult for either urban or suburban students, but a video that shows a farmer being interviewed is provided so any student, no matter where they lived, can complete this lesson.
  • Learning outcome: The design of the activities will meet projected learning outcomes: food systems and climate impacts by having students complete a variety of activities.
  • Type of lesson: Multiple types of activities are conducted by students during this unit are: experimental, interviews, use of real data, hands-on, games, a scavenger hunt, self-assessments and a few worksheets. These activities involve group/team work (i.e. for a game) as well as individual lesson components.
  • It may be helpful for instructors to modify this for use in an elementary school environment, where instructors may have a community garden at their school available to them.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Data/Information accessibility: Real-time and non-real-time data is embedded throughout the module.
  • Technological requirements/software: No software and/or hardware required.
  • Organization/Design of activity: Quality scaffolding, organization, formatting, and overall design.
  • Cost: No direct costs (eg. Software).
  • Usability: This entire module/curriculum is ready to use day one.
  • Background/Supplemental materials: High quality background materials/supplemental materials are provided which are scientifically sound and referenced.
  • Preparation time/Teachers guide: Prep time is minimal (copying worksheets, setting up a game) and the quality teacher guides are provided throughout, including scripted pieces for the teacher.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Curricula supports:

Middle School

Performance Expectations: 1

MS-ESS3-3: Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 3

MS-ESS3.C1:Human activities have significantly altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of other species. But changes to Earth’s environments can have different impacts (negative and positive) for different living things.

MS-ESS3.C2:Typically as human populations and per-capita consumption of natural resources increase, so do the negative impacts on Earth unless the activities and technologies involved are engineered otherwise.

MS-ESS3.D1:Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1

Cause and effect

MS-C2.1:Relationships can be classified as causal or correlational, and correlation does not necessarily imply causation.

Science and Engineering Practices: 6

Developing and Using Models, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

MS-P2.3:Use and/or develop a model of simple systems with uncertain and less predictable factors.

MS-P2.4:Develop and/or revise a model to show the relationships among variables, including those that are not observable but predict observable phenomena.

MS-P6.1:Construct an explanation that includes qualitative or quantitative relationships between variables that predict(s) and/or describe(s) phenomena.

MS-P6.2:Construct an explanation using models or representations.

MS-P6.7:Undertake a design project, engaging in the design cycle, to construct and/or implement a solution that meets specific design criteria and constraints

MS-P8.5:Communicate scientific and/or technical information (e.g. about a proposed object, tool, process, system) in writing and/or through oral presentations.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

HS-ESS3.C1:The sustainability of human societies and the biodiversity that supports them requires responsible management of natural resources.

Science and Engineering Practices: 3

Developing and Using Models, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

HS-P2.3:Develop, revise, and/or use a model based on evidence to illustrate and/or predict the relationships between systems or between components of a system

HS-P6.5:Design, evaluate, and/or refine a solution to a complex real-world problem, based on scientific knowledge, student-generated sources of evidence, prioritized criteria, and tradeoff considerations.

HS-P8.5:Communicate scientific and/or technical information or ideas (e.g. about phenomena and/or the process of development and the design and performance of a proposed process or system) in multiple formats (i.e., orally, graphically, textually, mathematically).

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