In a blog post last month, I wrote about how climate change science is set to be taught unevenly in the US curriculum. It’s great that middle and high school age kids in the US are going to learn about climate change. Unfortunately, the Next Generation Science Standards are voluntary and could take years to implement. So is there an option if we want our children to learn about climate change now?
The non-profit Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) fills this need. Their mission is to, “educate high school students on the science behind climate change and inspire them to take action to curb climate change”. One look at their website and you can see they are on the right track in reaching their target audience. It’s packed with social media links and interactive blog entries.
Since the fall of 2009, ACE has reached more than a million high school students at over 1,550 schools. While this is impressive, there are some teachers and parents who oppose the presentations, believing climate change to be a controversial and/or political issue. However, all of the climate science ACE presents comes from peer-reviewed published science articles, with a focus on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report (IPCC AR4). The IPCC AR4 is one of the most heavily researched science reports in history.
ACE’s efforts don’t end with their presentations. They also offer Student Action Programs to help get kids started right away. Then ACE grooms student environmental leaders who influence peers and lead change.
With the help of an ACE grant, Daniela Lapidous and Shreya Indukuri installed energy monitoring technology at their school. Saving both energy and money led them to expand the project to other local schools. Their project’s success brought them to the White House’s attention, where a mere two years after their first ACE presentation, they advised Energy Secretary Steven Chu on their smartmeter project that reduced their school’s electric bill by 13%. Daniela wrote about her experience on ACE’s blog, “Hot and Bothered” and is a co-founder of SmartPowerEd.org.
It’s inspiring to see the ripple effect that climate change education can bring about. And getting information about climate change to high school aged kids is critical and a conscious choice. “They’re going to be the generation to feel the impacts [of climate change] hardest and first,” says Matt Lappe, ACE’s education director. “And so in some sense we target high-schoolers and young people in general, because they really have a right to know climate science.”
We should all take a page out of the next generation’s book. Not only are they learning about climate change, but they are taking the next steps to do something about the problem. Taking charge of the future is what it is all about since they’re the ones that will have to live with the consequences if we don’t.