Environmental conference provides toolkit for teachers to educate students about climate change

June 5, 2014  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Dynamics of Climate conference, which gives educators an opportunity to trade conjecture and learn the facts of climate science, will return to the Purdue University campus June 18-20.

The event will include a keynote lecture by Purdue chemistry professor Paul Shepson, panel discussions on climate change, and sessions that take participants through the implementation of a professional development toolkit for climate science education.

"The toolkit is designed to give a basic but a timely and important understanding about climate from a climate systems perspective," said conference co-organizer Dan Shepardson, a Purdue professor of curriculum and instruction and earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences. "This will be a helpful resource for teachers and professional educators, with content geared especially for educating middle school and high school students."

The toolkit includes a professional development program manual, a presentation and guide that details talking points, video clips and instructional activities. Handouts will offer visuals and datasets for instructional activities and programs and a teacher's guide and administrative packet for implementing a professional development program in climate education.

Sponsors of the event include the Purdue Center for Climate Change Research, Center for the Environment, Discovery Park, Indiana State Climate Office and the National Science Foundation.

Indiana State Climatologist Dev Niyogi, a Purdue agronomy and earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences associate professor, said the toolkit employs the use of climate datasets and activities to develop understanding of climate.

Small group and individual activities require participants to interpret and analyze climatic data and use scientific concepts to explain climate events.

"Sessions will take participants through the implementation of the professional development toolkit," said Niyogi, a conference co-organizer. "Our goal is to provide teachers in grades K-12 with a framework for developing curriculum and learning activities around a climate system approach to understanding how the Earth's climate is changing."

Day one presentations will address "Student Conceptions of Climate Change," "The Next Generation Science Standards and Climate Education," "The Great Lakes Region and Climate Change," and the "Climate Continuum and Climate System."

Shepson will begin day two with a keynote lecture from 9:15-10:15 a.m., June 19, in the East Faculty Lounge of Purdue Memorial Union. A Purdue faculty member since 1994, Shepson will touch on how humans are reacting to the threat of climate change, the relationship between money, power, politics and energy management, and how to start a better national discussion of harnessing power while promoting environmental sustainability.

Breakout sessions will include "A Changing Climate" and "Greenhouse Gases, Greenhouse Effect, Carbon Cycle and Earth's Energy Budget" from 10:30-11:45 a.m., June 19, and again from 12:30-1:45 p.m. A climate panel discussion will follow from 2-2:45 p.m.

The conference's final day will offer sessions on "Climate Education Meeting the Needs of Teachers and Students" and "Action and Impact." Breakout sessions will touch on "Activities for Conceptualizing Climate and Climate Change" and "Media Construction of Global Warming."

For more information, contact Cindy Fate, Purdue Global Sustainability Institute, 765-494-5146, cynthia@purdue.edu

Participants will receive a digital version of the Dynamics of Climate professional development toolkit and a copy of the award-winning 2006 book, "Atlas of Climate Change." 

Writers: Anna Schultz, 812-447-5229, schult70@purdue.edu

Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu         

Sources: Dan Shepardson, 765-494-5284, dshep@purdue.edu    

Dev Niyogi, 765-494-6574, dniyogi@purdue.edu

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