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Should Climate Change Be a Vital Part of K-12 Learning?

Subjects such as earth science could be falling by the wayside during this era of Common Core. Moreover, in-depth lessons about climate change, a vital aspect of earth science are often missing in action.

“Climate change is the most urgent existential issue we face, yet education about climate change is often missing in action from K-12 schools,” argues Steven Newton, a Programs and Policy Director for the National Center for Science Education, according to his Huffington Blog Post.

“Every high school offers biology courses, but few offer earth science courses in which climate change would be a major topic. Why?”

Newton used research from the American Geosciences Institute, which seems to be pointing the finger towards colleges as the reason for a decline in high school Earth and Space Science courses. According to his report, districts aren’t confident that colleges will accept these concentrations in admission.

“8.6 percent [of colleges] did not accept an Earth and Space Science course for admission, as these institutions stated that they did not consider it to be a laboratory course,” according to Newton’s findings.

“The fact that one in twelve colleges deem earth sciences inferior to other disciplines reflects a disturbing, perhaps willful, ignorance about one of the major branches of science, a branch involving cutting edge scientific research in some hot areas (I'm looking at you, volcanology),” said Newton.

“This ignorance becomes doubly problematic because earth science courses are the natural place to talk about the most pressing issue we face: climate change. And yet the attitude of these colleges is part of the reason that climate change isn't presented at the K-12 level.”

Climate change is a daily occurrence that isn’t being highlighted in many K-12 classrooms nationwide. It’s important for students to learn how climate is affecting them in their daily lives and what affects it can have in the future, after all they are the future of the nation.

Newton introduces ways in which educators of other accepted science subjects such as chemistry and biology can mix in a bit of information on climate change to jumpstart student’s interests in the subject and make them more aware of the changes.

“It's important for climate change to be in the K-12 science classroom,” said Newton.

“High school graduates who are ignorant about climate change are uninformed citizens and become part of the machinery of delay, contributing to the inertia as politicians argue about the reality of climate change even as they witness its consequences.”

Do you think climate change is a necessary concentration in the classroom? Read the full story and comment below. Don't forget to read EdWorld's weekly roundups of National Center for Science Education content.

Article by Navindra Persaud, Education World Contributor.

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