Climate Change Resources for Indiana K-12 Teachers

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Climate Change Resources for Indiana K-12 Teachers

In the fall of 2020, the Purdue Climate Change Research Center partnered with the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) and Purdue Science's K-12 Outreach to curate resources that both assist educators with teaching climate change and intersect with existing Indiana Academic Standards for science.

To guide this process, the team pulled from the published work of Purdue professors Dan Shepardson and Andrew Hirsch that outlines five critical climate change topics that every student should learn and that every adult should understand. During a two-day virtual workshop, IDOE and Purdue staff worked with Indiana educators to identify relevant state academic standards and associated learning resources aligned with the five climate change concepts to create an efficient and accessible framework from which educators all across the state could pull.

5 Critical Topics About Climate Change

Climate change is a broad topic, and for educators with limited time available to teach about this important topic, it can be challenging to know where to even begin. To help educators find a starting point, Purdue professors Dan Shepardson and Andrew Hirsch published an article in American Educator outlining five critical topics that students need to know. These essential topics help students develop a deep understanding of the fundamental concepts of climate change, enhancing their potential for future learning.

Below we've summarized these five critical topics, but we encourage you to check out the (free) article in full. In it, Shepardson and Hirsch review students' understanding of climate change and barriers to teaching it, they elaborate on key concepts, and they even provide pedagogical suggestions for integrating these concepts into classroom learning.

Topic 1

Weather, Climate, and Climate Change

Students need to understand the relationship between weather and climate. Weather is a snapshot of day-to-day conditions at a location. Climate is the long-term average of weather conditions over 30 years or more. Knowing how climate data are generated and what those data actually represent are essential to understanding the concepts of climate variability and climate change.

Topic 2
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BONUS: Listen to Shepardson & Hirsch talk about strategies for teaching climate change on the Class Dismissed podcast (Episode 140).

Literacy Connections

Climate change education doesn't just happen in science class. Indiana teachers have started a list of books to help educators integrate climate change education into literacy curriculum.

Green Ribbon Schools

The Indiana Green Ribbon Schools program highlights schools in Indiana that educate students about human environmental impact on their communities.

Additional Materials

Looking for local climate change information?

Scientists and decision makers from across the state have developed a series of easily understandable reports that shows how a changing climate affects state and local interests. Led by the Purdue Climate Change Research Center, the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment (IN CCIA) provides the latest scientific research to help Hoosiers understand and prepare for the impacts of a changing climate.

NEW -- Indiana-specific climate lessons

"I teach at a local school and have been looking at curriculum options that will give 8th graders the opportunity to research past temperatures and explore climate change using real data. Textbook curriculum has nothing on this, so I have been scouring the internet. I am thrilled to have found IN CCIA's easy to use information and website. It gives direct data for Indiana, so my students have a vested interest."

-- Maribeth Holland, science teacher