Climate Education

With our partner: University of California Museum of Paleontology

Teaching the Science of Climate Change

Educational Tools for International Classrooms

From increasing temperatures and sea level rise to human impacts, climate change isn’t easy to teach. The complex science, politicized environment, misinformation, and lack of teacher training pose a formidable challenge.

Novim is teaming with the University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP) and the Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) at the University of Colorado to address this important issue head-on, and to bring the complex findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) into understandable focus in the classroom.

Improving Climate Change Teaching has an ambitious goal: To enhance climate change training for science teachers and improve instruction in the pre-college classroom. Studies show that teachers need a better understanding of climate change. Professional Development resources need to align with Next Generation Science Standards, incorporate the latest science, and guide teachers to curricula best suited for their classrooms.

Teachers are the ultimate gatekeepers. Without robust training, they don’t have the core skills to teach climate change – and without effective teachers, effective curricula can’t exist.

Improving Climate Change Teaching is designed to:

  • Develop teacher-training resources aimed specifically at pre-college teachers charged with communicating climate change to their students.

  • Create a Web Portal that acts as the teacher’s planning tool, focusing on best practices, identifying the best curricula, and responding to the climate change questions they ask as they develop their lesson plans.

  • UCMP, CLEAN, and Novim are developing and testing the materials. They are scheduled for release in the fall of 2019.

“Models turn facts into stories, and stories into insight.” – Ian Leslie

From Project Lead, Jessica Bean

Project Impact 

The UGC Project suite of online and physical interactive learning materials supports science educators from all disciplines and their students to use an Earth systems perspective to explain phenomena, contextualize learning about local environmental, health, and climate issues within a global context, and inform actions to solve complex problems. These materials allow teachers and students to construct models that explain the dynamics, feedbacks, and interactions among human and non-human caused global change processes and phenomena. The existing materials are publicly available on the UC Berkeley UGC web resource and the NOAA and NSF funded Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network. The UGC framework is made up of three categories of components that interact in the Earth system: 1) Measurable changes, which are the changes that we can monitor in the Earth system over time; 2) System processes, which are the ongoing processes that shape the Earth through time, and 3) Causes for change, which are the ultimate human and non-human forcings that change the rate and magnitude of system processes, resulting in measurable changes in the Earth system. This framework supports the development of a holistic systems perspective as teachers and students “connect the dots” to explain phenomena across various scales. Key global change processes and phenomena (e.g. precipitation, atmospheric circulation, erosion, biodiversity) are represented in the Framework as icons. The icons are used to construct explanatory models about Earth system phenomena either using physical materials (cards, paper, pens) or an online conceptual modeling tool. These Earth system models help students visualize and understand the phenomenon under investigation, as well as the cascading effects and feedback mechanisms that a single cause or measurable change can have on other parts of the system, and how these changes at various scales affect the health and well-being of their local communities. The UGC materials offer a mechanism for applying system characteristics in various contexts, and allowing students to iteratively construct models as they expand their understanding of the Earth system.  


The UGC resources also include lessons, instructional units, and a planning guide to help anchor learning around Earth system phenomena. These instructional materials have been piloted in four rounds of testing and revisions. Preliminary evidence from teachers who have used the UGC materials suggests that the instructional materials support teacher understanding of the Earth as a system, and students’ construction of explanations of global change phenomena. Teachers report that they have extended their use of the system modeling materials and practices to design new lessons for various parts of their curricula.
~ Dr. Jessica Bean, PhD