Reports of the National Center for Science Education

NCSE climate change lesson sets win endorsement from CLEAN, identified as high-quality materials

Selected By CLEAN logo.

If you’ve looked recently at our climate change lesson sets, you might have noticed something new: a Selected-byCLEAN badge on each.

Since mid-October 2023, the Selected-by-CLEAN badge issued by the Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network has identified all five of our climate change lesson sets as being aligned with both the Next Generation Science Standards and the Climate Literacy Essential Principles and Energy Awareness Principles. We are incredibly proud of this achievement. This badge not only attests to the quality of our lesson sets, but also allows teachers to find these valuable resources more easily. Following the conferral of the badges, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which funds CLEAN in part, highlighted our lesson sets on its social media channels, bringing them to the attention of even more teachers nationwide.

Materials that CLEAN includes in its portal undergo a rigorous, independent review involving scientists and teachers. Only high-quality materials are chosen for inclusion, and even then often only after revisions in the light of CLEAN’s feedback. In the case of our lesson set Back to the Future: Climate Edition, NCSE used the feedback received to strengthen the lesson set, for example, by including a technology-free version of an activity where students look for patterns in tree rings to determine whether tree rings are reliable climate proxies. This updated version is now available.

NCSE and CLEAN’s historical partnership

CLEAN is led by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder and the Science Education Resource Center (SERC) at Carleton College. (SERC’s founding director Cathryn A. Manduca is a 2023 Friend of the Planet recipient.) Although the CLEAN portal was originally launched in 2010 as a project of the National Science Digital Library, it has been housed at since 2012. CLEAN not only serves as a resource bank for the CLEAN Collection of Climate and Energy Science resources, all of which have been reviewed by a panel of scientists and teachers, but also provides guidance in the best practices to teach climate and energy science.Moreover, CLEAN maintains the CLEAN Network, a community of professionals committed to improving climate and energy literacy, which has been virtually meeting each week since 2008. The CLEAN Network now includes over 800 members (and you, too, can join). NCSE has been involved with CLEAN since the beginning of our Supporting Teachers program. Director of Teacher Support Lin Andrews and I have been attending weekly CLEAN meetings since we began at NCSE (in 2019 and 2021, respectively).

Looking to the future, we hope to develop our partnership with CLEAN even further. In November 2023, CLEAN hosted the first meeting of its Accelerating Climate Capacity, Engagement, and Leadership Summit (ACCELS), for which NCSE is leading a working group. The ACCELS working group that NCSE is heading is investigating what it would take to put together a flexible inventory of climate change education concepts that would be accessible to any teacher. We have also collaborated with CLEAN on the development of a professional learning experience for teachers that blends our solutions-forward climate change lesson set Climate Super Solutions with strategies to support climate mental health in students and teachers.

Students need to learn not only how to resolve their misconceptions about climate change in science class but also how to cope with the mis- and disinformation they encounter outside of the classroom. We at NCSE are committed to ensuring that science educators have the resources to guide their students accordingly. As we continue to grow our network of teachers who utilize our lesson sets and engage in our community of practice, valued partners such as CLEAN will help to accomplish this goal even more thoroughly.

NCSE Curriculum Specialist Cari Herndon
Short Bio

Cari Herndon is a former NCSE staff member.