Introducing cutting-edge science topics can be a challenge, due to the constantly evolving nature of scientific research. But an innovative new science education program aims to meet that challenge when educating students, teachers, and the public about global climate change and its impacts.
Today, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced 15 awardees who will take the lead in planning collaborations across the United States as part of the Climate Change Education Partnership (CCEP) program. This program will connect climate scientists, experts in theories on how people learn science, and formal and informal education experts, with the goal of increasing public understanding of global climate change and preparing the next generation of scientists and educators.Each partnership will work to identify and disseminate scientifically accurate educational resources. "It takes time for modern science to make it into textbooks," says Dave Campbell, a program director at NSF, "so teachers rely on websites and news clips in order to introduce these concepts into the classroom. … Eventually, the materials developed through this program will help both classroom teachers and educators working in informal learning settings such as museums and parks, address students' questions about climate change from a solid scientific basis."
Climate science is complex and interdisciplinary, and therefore not an easy subject to teach. These partnerships will develop innovative approaches to learning about climate and new strategies to increase the adoption of effective educational resources within communities.
"The topic of climate change is not currently well-represented in national and state science education standards," according to Jill Karsten, a program director at NSF. Additionally, rather than advocating for specific behavior changes, the emphasis will be on understanding the science of climate change and the nature of its impacts. "We want to prepare individuals and their communities to make their own evidence-based decisions," Karsten noted.
The program is organized around both environmental themes and geographic regions, since climate change has varied effects depending on the part of the country. The lead primary investigators will issue sub-awards in order to increase the breadth of the partnerships to meet the educational needs of each environmental theme or geographic region.
Phase I of the program is a 2-year strategic planning period during which each partnership will conduct a thorough needs analysis and identify key stakeholders and effective educational resources that can help to address those needs. Full implementation of these plans in Phase II is expected to begin in fiscal year 2012. "These awards will also help us leverage other federal investments," says Karsten. Climate change education is also a priority of groups such as the National Park Service, NOAA and NASA. Karsten noted that the NSF partnerships will "establish additional connectivity and help scale up national implementation of climate change education."By National Science Foundation : http://www.firstscience.com/home/news/atmospheric-science