The charity Climate Ed runs workshops with school children to further student engagement by building on the basic climate science message through role play, creative tasks, games and news features. In small groups, the children also have opportunities to express themselves with reflective writing.
Since Easter, Climate Ed volunteer Suzanne O’Donnell has been engaged in delivering five one-hour sessions to about 60 of Year 6 children at the Furzedown Primary School in Wandsworth, London. Suzanne, who is a former teacher and has a lot of energy for networking, enjoys being involved in the creative side of climate action together with the children. She’s convinced that the work will go towards raising a generation of carbon literate children, and through it they will support the foundations for a more sustainable future.
Ben Cuddon, founder of Climate Ed, a Carbon Conversations facilitator, and one of the directors of The Surefoot Effect, aims to teach children about climate change and empowers them to take action through the charity’s activities. To do so, Suzanne and other volunteers draw on their own background. For Suzanne it meant that she was able to use relevant examples of recent activism, for example student protest of fossil fuel companies funding at the Science Museum. It was also possible to include a slide showing an environmental art project attended by young children funded by their local council. She’s also keen to use her teaching skills to facilitate questions and let the children to voice concerns which they did with great enthusiasm.
To balance the science videos, the activities provided a way to make carbon counting fun by making up a catchy short rhyme or a comic sketch. Unsurprisingly this created quite a lot of laughter among the 9-10 year-olds. This added a playful aspect while focus was the major carbon reductions they and their families can achieve. Questionnaires and presentations pointed to carbon tracker apps for their families to carry the work into weekly accounting beyond the classroom and challenged them on how much emissions participants are able to save.
Suzanne thinks the students after the workshop have a good handle on the main causes and impacts. They are aware that flying or owning an SUV both being carbon intensive is a problematic issue; furthermore, some of the kids saw a conflict that those activities are presented as aspirational. However, they are aware that choices are available and can be made about the future that tackle the travel problem. They also pointed out benefits of vegan diets to their friends and parents and making reductions there too.
Suzanne taught art and design at secondary level some years ago. Working at primary level is a huge difference she says, because this age group wants to know what’s happening in the world, what's changing and why. It was a great reward for her to get back to her local community. Even with Covid restrictions they’ve proved this approach to be successful from a clarification and practical action point of view.
So far Climate Ed has run their programme in schools around south London, with bookings for the coming academic year there’s a huge desire to spread awareness among the school community and build relations with other groups.
If you would like to set up Climate Ed affiliate groups in the UK or in other countries the charity would love to hear from you. Feel free to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
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