By Kelly Steinberg, Asombro Insitute for Science Education
As K-12 teachers prepare to return to school this fall, they are looking for new ideas and the latest science to share with their students. That’s where the partnership between the Southwest Climate Hub and the Asombro Institute for Science Education comes in. Asombro has a 30-year history of bringing current and local science research into classrooms, bridging the gap between researchers and educators.
This summer we led ten days of teacher workshops, including seven days focused on climate change in the southwest. With a year of remote teaching under our belts, we were able to move our workshops online and train teachers not just in New Mexico, but all across the Southwest. Seventy-five participants logged on from New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California and even internationally for training on how to use the 17+ activities that Asombro and the Southwest Climate Hub have published for teachers online (available here). Participants spanned elementary through high school teachers in subjects including science, environmental science, math, and agriculture. They also included extension and non-formal educators. While many of our participants felt familiar with the causes and impacts of climate change, participants reported that the workshops helped them learn substantially more about current research and adaptations to climate change in the southwest.
In each workshop, participants heard from experts and got first-hand experience with activities they can use with their students. Teachers played games, watched experiment demos, discussed mitigation strategies and analyzed data. They participated in one of our favorite activities, the Climate Data Jam, in which students identify data trends and make a creative representation of them. In the workshop, we challenged participants to create something in just a few minutes, and were presented with pictures and poems. One participant wrote on an anonymous evaluation, “I enjoyed the overviews of the lessons; it helps me to come up with ideas and combine with my math lessons.”
After more than a year away from the classroom, it was inspiring to work with so many teachers who are ready to bring these important topics into their classrooms. The past year has highlighted the importance of science-informed decision-making, and we look forward to the students we teach this year applying this knowledge to their future.
“I really appreciate that you are covering a lot of different information regarding climate change and allowing students to work through the activities to see the results and then make their own informed decisions. So many climate change programs are all doom and gloom and tell students what to think and generally have one agenda in mind. I definitely prefer the route of allowing students to work through the problems and possibly come up with solutions. I also appreciate that you support cattle farmers and encourage working with them to come up with solutions.”-Workshop Participant
If you would like to learn more about Asombro's Climate Change education units or would like to arrange a workshop for a group of teachers, please contact Kelly Steinberg: kelly[at]asombro.org