Climate change education for kids is a big component of what we advocate for at Pretty Brainy. We try to offer climate change education for kids because we believe that everyone has a right to know the current state of our planet and what we can do to help individually. Our programs in humanitarian engineering offer new ways of giving climate change education for girls without being depressing or boring. We at Pretty Brainy combine climate change and STEAM learning to give powerful, hands-on experiences to empower girls so that they may be part of the generation that helps solve our planet’s problems. You can find out how to get personally involved by joining our mobile app, MISSion Innovation, which can help you mitigate the effects of climate change. Click here to download the app.
What Is Climate Change?
Let’s quickly define what climate change actually is. According to one study (Wandana et al. 2021), climate change is defined as the warming of our climate due to an increase in greenhouse gases. These greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, get stuck in our atmosphere and create a heat shield that traps the heat from the sun into our planet. This heat then gets reabsorbed by our Earth, heating it a little, instead of the excess heat being released back into space.
While you may think that a bit of extra heat may not be so bad, think of this analogy: if you put on twelve layers, and you are feeling hot, you’d want to pull off any extra layers to cool yourself down. But if you can’t pull off those extra layers, you may have a problem and are going to overheat. This is similar to what is happening to Earth, as it continues to trap heat and can’t release any of it into space.
Why Is Climate Change So Bad?
If the earth continues to heat, things get pretty bad. Certain species of plants and animals don’t survive in hotter temperatures, and will, unfortunately, become extinct. As the ocean absorbs a lot of the excess heat, it becomes hotter and more acidic. A hotter ocean drives certain fish and coral species into extinction, causing coral bleaching and the disappearance of entire ecosystems.
Climate change is also causing all of the icebergs on the north and south poles to melt, putting more water into the ocean, which is causing flooding. The weather patterns are also changing due to a warming Earth, causing more extreme wildfires, droughts, storms, hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, and earthquakes. If we don’t do something drastic pretty soon, we won’t be able to stop our earth from getting warmer and warmer, and things from getting worse for life on this planet.
How Is Climate Change Affecting Me Personally?
Right now, it might be hard to see how climate change is affecting you personally, but it does. If you’ve noticed hotter summers or colder winters in the past few years, climate change is the reason. Climate change is also reducing many of our natural resources from Earth, such as water or oil. If you start to see food or water becoming more expensive in the coming decades, it’s because of climate change (Raven et al. 2021). If you drive a car, and you notice gas going up in price, it’s a similar situation, we’re using up Earth’s resources, and climate change is making things worse.
Help Mitigate the Effects of Climate Change Now:
It’s important to realize how your individual actions may affect our planet’s health. For example, if you live in a city, and you notice the air is smoggy and polluted, you can see how your city is negatively impacting the climate by polluting it (Yet et al. 2021). The U.S. is one of the worst countries for pollution, as the population has grown significantly due to immigration and high birth rates, increasing the number of people driving, eating, flying, or doing other things that might negatively impact the environment (Wandana et al. 2021). This can be difficult to adjust as we all do these things quite regularly, and have a certain lifestyle that may not be eco-friendly.
Thankfully, there are tools we can use to work on minimizing our harmful impacts on the environment. One of those tools is using a carbon footprint calculator. A carbon footprint is the measured amount of carbon emitted by an individual. Your carbon footprint may vary by how much you travel, what sort of food you eat, how much you shop or drive, and other things (Ibid). A carbon footprint is a good tool to keep track of where you are now, and how you can help to lower your own carbon footprint. Carbon footprints don’t have to be just for individuals either but can be for cities or even entire countries (Gomez-Villarino et al. 2020).
Ways That I Can Help Reduce Climate Change:
The first step to reducing your carbon footprint, and overall negative impact, is by being mindful of your actions. Realize all of your choices may have consequences and those consequences may be impacting the Earth more than you realize. A study (Islam & Keiu 2021) advises that you work with your family to find ways to spend less money and travel less.
Simple Ways to help:
-Eat sustainably, especially fish
-Talk to your parents and show them how important it is to be environmentally conscious. -Make your family involved.
-Get your friends involved.
-Start a neighborhood group
-Plant a community garden
-Start a community recycling program
-You can challenge your friends to take shorter showers to waste less water, or to bike or carpool to school instead of individually driving. Getting others involved can help make things easier for you personally, and make it more fun to help save the environment.
Lastly, you can write to those in authority, like your local politicians, to get their attention and work with them to make your city and state more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Making your voice heard and your demands known lets more people take you seriously and shows them you mean business.
Use STEAM to impact climate change.
The components of STEAM learning, such as humanitarian engineering and design thinking empower girls to take action to better their planet. The STEAM learning process also gives tools and skills for girls to think critically, evaluate decisions carefully, and have an effective problem-solving approach. Through a STEAM education, girls are taught leadership, teamwork, collaboration, critical analysis, and mindfulness. They become confident in who they are and what new skills they have learned. This in turn makes them girls who are ready and able to help our planet and the local communities around us.
We at Pretty Brainy have involved our local communities to help teach climate change through climate science workshops. In our previous project, Greenhouse Gas Lab (2019), we worked with local teachers and educators within northern Colorado to help them teach effective climate science to their students in engaging and fun ways. Our teams of girls gave laboratory demonstrations of how to show the effects of greenhouse gases in climate change kids’ projects. These demonstrations used inexpensive tools, which our local educators appreciated. In using Greenhouse Gas Lab as our climate change kids’ project, we wanted to emphasize the importance of not only working with young girls but also their parents and educators, branching out to the whole community.
In order to help educate the complications of climate change in an engaging way, Pretty Brainy has also created an app called MISSion Innovation, which allows users to reduce their carbon footprint and learn ways to help mitigate climate change. The app teaches users about their carbon footprints, as well as tricks to be more environmentally conscious. You can find this app in all app stores, and download it here. The app was launched in 2020 and continues to be downloaded as users spread the word of helping our planet. You can listen to more from our teams of girls who coded the app in this video.
Gómez-Villarino M.T., Gómez Villarino M. , and Ruiz-Garcia L. 2020. Implementation of Urban Green Infrastructures in Peri-Urban Areas: A Case Study of Climate Change Mitigation in Madrid. Agronomy 11(1).
Islam M.S., and Kieu E. 2021. Sociological Perspectives on Climate Change and Society: A Review. Climate. 9(7).
Ravena P., and Wagner D.L. 2021. Agricultural intensification and climate change are rapidly decreasing insect biodiversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 118(2).
Wandana L.S., Wadanambi R.T, Preethika D.D.P., Dassanayake N.P., Chathumini K.K.G.L., Udara S.P.R. Arachchige. (2021). Carbon Footprint Analysis: Promoting Sustainable Development. JOURNAL OF RESEARCH TECHNOLOGY AND ENGINEERING, 2(1).
Ye B., Jiang J., Liu J., Zheng Y., Zhou N. 2021. Research on quantitative assessment of climate change risk at an urban scale: Review of recent progress and outlook of future direction. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 135(1).
Water resources squeezing earth-@ezps
Girls sitting in circle -@freepik
Girl and drought-@jcomp
Kenna Castleberry is the Science Communicator at JILA (Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics) at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is also a podcaster and science writer. You can find out more about her work on her website.