Washington Schools get creative in teaching climate change

Climate change education comes in all shapes and forms, whether it be on a TikTok doom scroll or in a college classroom.

But now, places like Camas High School, in a semi-rural region of Washington State, have been working on making climate education more interactive and interesting hopefully inspiring kids along the way.

The creative education manifested as a role play where students became farming activists attending a G7 summit while their teacher Ali Coker wove in facts about food insecurity.

The end goal of the project was to educate the students on food justice and the impacts of climate change on agriculture in the state of Washington.

The project was part of a teaching development program called ClimeTime which helps Washington teachers add climate change and environmental justice literature into their lesson plans. 

With an annual investment of over $7 million, Washington became the first state in the US to explicitly put money toward K-12 climate change education, and that investment has largely been a great success.

Of the nearly 1,000 educators who participated in programming during the 2021-22 school year, 98 percent agreed or strongly agreed that it prepared them with the necessary skills to try something new or different in their professional practice.

The program links Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and climate science and brings it to the classroom.

“A lot of the information that’s available now didn’t exist five years ago, 10 years ago,” says Ellen Ebert, Washington’s director of secondary content. “So how is the teacher supposed to keep up with all of the information? When we present it this way, they develop their own toolboxes — and then that’s what they bring back to their colleagues in their schools.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land among others.