Why I teach climate science

#ClimateEdNowI teach Climate Science because I feel it is one of the most important things I can do for the children in my classroom. Climate change is a “now” problem. It is not something that happened a long time ago, or something that will happen a long time from now. Climate is changing, and we need new thinkers and thinking to move us in a better direction.

As a middle school science teacher, I know that my daily routines and lessons will not be foremost in my students’ minds when they look back on their schooling. It is the nature of the job — there are lots of things fighting for the attention of a 13-year-old. When they come back and talk to me as seniors or college graduates, what stands out are the big-ticket items like projects and field trips, maybe some embarrassing moments, and the atmosphere of the class. The details from years ago are often fuzzy. But, importantly, the big ideas and connections we made are there. What sticks is the “Why?” and “How?,” not so much the jargon and the trivial. Climate change is one of those big topics I hope they keep in the forefront of their minds down the road.

Any future scenario that sees us reducing the climate crisis will rely on this generation of students to drive that change.

I've come to understand that teaching the curriculum and topics is important, but connecting those topics to the students' real-life experiences becomes vital. Teaching with a focus on the environment helps me connect a number of science skills and practices with some of those big ideas. We explore real data, analyze climate models, and investigate future scenarios. We examine the issues with a local, regional, and global lens, building more connections between their immediate circumstances with the world at large — and maybe between their present and future selves. This in turn helps the students better understand the drivers, consequences, and possible solutions related to climate change, as well as identify the misinformation that surrounds the topic. All of these are key for those who will lead us out of the current reality and into a sustainable future.

And that is the goal. My students will grow up someday, and I want to help them discover how to be good problem-solvers and decision makers. I hope they will be inspired to build off the connections we make in class. Any future scenario that sees us reducing the climate crisis will rely on this generation of students to drive that change. I hope they will be able to help or support those who are doing the work with their actions and words. That is why I teach Climate Science.

Read other essays from our #ClimateEdNow series.

David Amidon
Short Bio

David Amidon is a middle school science teacher at LaFayette Junior-Senior High School in LaFayette, New York. He is also an NCSE Teacher Ambassador.