As a teacher at a large comprehensive high school in New Haven, CT I teach phychem which is the ninth grade science course in the city. Phychem is a science course that focuses on two major topics a quarter. Topics covered in phychem include climate change, natural resources, waves, electricity and magnetism. The first quarter looks at earth's energy and matter cycles as well as weather and climate change. The unit presented here would come after a section on the greenhouse effect and how humans are impacting the climate system. Taking an engineering approach my unit will teach students about possible engineering solutions to climate change. Participating in this unit will be ninth graders or students taking phychem at both the college and honors levels. Phychem is a course designed for 9th grade students that follows the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). These standards incorporate both scientific principles and engineering practices in the classroom.
The 9th grade curriculum now includes a section on climate change. Students taking phychem at Wilbur Cross H.S. are impacted and will be impacted by climate change. As younger high school students from an urban environment they need to be exposed to local, national and global issues such as climate change.
Students can and will be affected by the changing climate of the earth. This year in phychem our anchoring phenomena for the weather/ climate and climate change unit was hurricanes. Also this year devastating hurricanes impacted many people including families of students at the school and in my classes. Though there is not conclusive evidence to say it was climate change, there is the increased potential for climate change to contribute to hurricanes through changing weather patterns and warmer air and ocean temperatures. A problem on all scales, it is important for students to learn about the mechanisms and need for solutions to climate change.
Due to the changing climate there is a great need for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers in the future. Scientist will be needed to monitor, model and document the changing climate and mitigate impacts. Many engineers will be needed to generate solutions for better infrastructure as well as the most efficient alternative energies.
Climate change is important topic to address carefully because it can inspire a negative outlook. Students might have a pessimistic view that there is nothing that can be done with as problem as global as climate change. Through this unit, I want to inspire a need for solutions that are real to the students. A changing climate is already a problem and will soon be our student’s problem to help solve. Creating informed passionate people is key to finding a solution.