The "Americans’ Knowledge of Climate Change" report conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication revealed that while only 10% of American adults feel "well-informed" on the topic of climate change, 75% think that schools should incorporate climate change education into their curricula. And that is just what the NASA Global Climate Change Education project aims to do by providing K-12 educators with the necessary tools and resources to access NASA climate and related Earth systems data. Not only is it imperative that tomorrow's adults understand why and how climate change is happening, but also how it will affect their lives and the lives of the rest of the world.
This project is designed to provide educators with the resources to engage high school students in critical thinking about climate change and the potential impact on human health across the planet. Lessons developed for this project all use an interactive geospatial globe, NASA World Wind, to view and access climate and human related datasets. This customized and enhanced NASA World Wind portal can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection and Adobe Flash. Use geospatial visualization tools in the classroom offers experiences that provide a deeper understanding of the impacts of global climate change on humans. NASA World Wind, an interactive geospatial globe, allows zooming from satellite altitude down to any location on the Earth’s surface.
The lesson themes explored in this project include: Disease, Migration, Natural Disasters, Food, Desertification, Rising Sea Levels and Water. Each lesson allows users to examine climate data trends, both historic and predictive, while estimating how many people might be impacted through the changes. Estimating populations is made possible through the Population Estimation Tool developed by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). Lessons will start becoming available in late Fall 2011.
In addition to developing lessons that various impacts of climate change on human health, hands-on teacher training workshops will be conducted for teachers to learn how to use the resources in their classrooms. During the summers of 2012 and 2013, 80 teachers from across the country will have the opportunity to take part in the training workshops.