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September 26, 2023

Integrating Climate Change Education, No Matter What You Teach!

Climate change doesn’t only belong in a science class! Try these free resources from MIT for teaching climate science and solutions.


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By Sylvia Scharf

We’re hearing from teachers all over the country that they want ways to fit climate change into their teaching because their students are asking for it—and because it is one of the most important challenges our students will face in their lifetimes. But climate change doesn’t appear in most high school standards. So what can teachers do?

MIT Climate from the Environmental Solutions Initiative has more than 100 free activities in our Educator Guides, each connected to an episode of our award-winning podcast, TILclimate (Today I Learned: Climate). Activities can be done in sequence or buffet-style, and they’re all easy for teachers to adapt and remix to fit class needs.

Five Ways to Integrate Climate Change

Climate change touches almost every aspect of human life, and it can have a place in almost every part of education. Consider data analysis, communication, civic understanding, case studies, design challenges and more. Here are five examples from among our collection of 30-plus (and growing) Educator Guides.

English Language Arts

Learning to communicate well on a complex topic is a vital skill. In The Ocean and Climate Change, students use a step-by-step process to design a communication plan around the Ocean Literacy Principles. Their final project could be anything, from a poster presentation to a podcast—and beyond.

Civics and Government

Understanding the legislative process is a key part of civic education. In America’s Big Year of Climate Action, students become “mini-experts” on the Inflation Reduction Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the CHIPS Act. Local research brings these federal bills right into their own neighborhoods.

Mathematics and Data

Working with real-world data makes graphing practice more engaging. Hurricanes and Climate Change includes two datasets and ample opportunity to analyze and interpret decades’ worth of hurricane data. 

Design Challenges

The design process can be a fun way to stretch critical-thinking and collaboration skills. With Travel and Climate Change, students design their own public transit system in an imagined city.

Project-Based Learning

Want an overarching project to bring it all together? Let your students’ imaginations soar while distilling their climate change learning with the City of the Future project. Teams of students work together to plan all aspects of a city, while holding to a group-designed rubric to measure success.

Moving from Content to Context

Climate change may not be highlighted as a content standard, but it can provide real-world context for many skills and practices: Asking questions and defining problems. Reading and writing informational and technical texts. Integrating information from diverse sources. Making and analyzing models. College and career readiness. Social-emotional learning. 

By integrating climate change into your existing teaching practices, you give your students the opportunity to engage on a deeply important topic, while demonstrating that everything is connected. We at MIT Climate want to make this as easy as possible for you, with classroom-ready, flexible and adaptable free resources. Get started here on ShareMyLesson.

Learn More

Overwhelmed by all these options and looking for some specific guidance for your teaching needs? Book a free consultation with MIT Climate’s Climate Education Specialist. Learn more here.

About the Author

Sylvia Scharf (she/they) is MIT Climate’s Climate Education Specialist at the Environmental Solutions Initiative. Coming from a background in nonformal science education and teacher professional development, she is dedicated to supporting classroom teachers in climate change education.

MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI)

Founded in 2014, the Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI) is MIT’s institute-wide effort to mobilize the substantial scientific, engineering, policy, and design capacity of the MIT community to contribute to addressing climate change and other environmental challenges of global import.

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