5.8 million grant for education on climate change
Published: Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Updated: Sunday, September 2, 2012 15:09
Teachers in Delaware and Maryland will have new climate change science resources to implement into the classroom due to a multi-million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation.
The $5.8 million grant received on Aug. 15 will fund the Maryland Delaware Climate Change Education and Assessment project, a collaborative partnership between the University of Delaware and University of Maryland to improve climate change education.
Dean of the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment Nancy Targett said the partnership brings together climate scientists, teachers and curriculum developers to create a K-12 curriculum using new data and information specific to Delmarva.
“The grant also includes an effort to improve climate change education in the university curriculum within the two states, particularly for students going into the science education field,” she said.
With that objective in mind, Targett said a regional partnership was proposed with the University of Maryland since both states have similar climate change concerns that impact citizens environmentally and politically, such as high sea levels.
“Our regions are like a microcosm because we have some urban areas like Baltimore and Wilmington but then we’ve got really some quite rural areas as well,” she said. “We thought we could touch on a lot of different audiences in a way that was manageable.”
Donald Boesch, director of the MADECLEAR project and president of the UMD Center for Environmental Science, said the grant will also fund additional research conducted between scientists and a limited number of graduate students. The grant supports professional workshops for teachers already in the system and those who plan to teach science education.
“We want to make climate change clear to people, particularly young people about why the world is changing, what they can do about it, and how to be prepared for it,” Boesch said. “We will do that by working with scientists and educators in our states to develop new models of teaching.”
Although Targett knows the five-year project can’t stop climate change, she said her goal is to educate the next generation so they are able to make informed decisions regarding the issue.
“We feel that an educated public and an educated citizenry, students who come out of school and can discuss this information in a knowledgeable way, and in a fact based way would be very beneficial,” Targett said.
While the primary focus of the new university curriculum will be science education, researchers will also examine the ways in which climate change is already discussed in classrooms across all disciplines and discover ways to increase scientific support them.
Both states are actively participating in climate change by means of clean renewable energy such as wind and solar energy, which makes the project appealing to the NSF, Boesch said. He said commitment is crucial when the topic of climate change has in some cases become a political issue.
“Unfortunately, in some states climate change has become politicized and consequently not received enough attention,” he said. “Our states recognize the risks and are trying to prepare for it as effectively as we can through our teaching methods and educating young people.”