Teachers in grades 4-12 from the School District of Philadelphia, area charter and independent schools participated in a professional development workshop at the Franklin Institute on May 16, 2018. The event, “Get Climate Ready,” was funded by a grant from CUSP (Climate and Urban Systems Partnership). Grant recipients were National Wildlife Federation’s Eco Schools USA, the School District of Philadelphia, and sustainability consultants Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants. The event empowered teachers with the tools to incorporate hands-on activities and lesson plans about climate change into their curriculum as well as help their school reduce climate impacts.
“What’s the difference between weather, climate and climate change?” With this question, Mary Ann Boyer of Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants kicked off the interactive professional development workshop on climate change in Philadelphia. Teachers gathered in small groups to define key terms and then convened to establish a working definition for each word. “Weather,” “climate,” and “climate change” are commonly confused words that all have very different meanings. Weather is seasonal short term change, whereas climate is long term weather patterns in a given geographic region, and climate change illustrates new patterns that arise from global warming.
Dr. Rachel Valletta, CUSP’s Director and Environmental Scientist for The Franklin Institute, presented the science behind climate change with information on how Philadelphia will be a hotter and wetter city in the future. She explained that there will be increased intensity of storms and more rain. By 2050, we can expect three weeks of additional days above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Anne Sudduth of Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants then presented “Step Forward, Step Back for Climate Change,” an interactive activity that helps students see how their own actions can help or harm the climate. Students are directed to step forward or backwards in response to questions about actions that impact personal carbon footprint, such as eating red meat daily, hanging clothes dry or taking public transit.
Dr. Rachel Valletta then showed teachers the Franklin Institute’s creative, hands-on models that demonstrate how the albedo effect and trees play a part in mitigating the effects of climate change (see picture). To find descriptions of these model or to order one for your school please visit CUSP’s website here. After the demonstrations, Holly Shields, Regional Educational Manager for National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools program, and Megan Garner, Sustainability Manager for the School District of Philadelphia, explained how schools and communities can receive national recognition for becoming greener.
Article written by Janelle Edwards, intern at Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants. Janelle is a graduate student at Drexel University’s School of Public Health.