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My 2050 School's Toolkit

A guide for teachers wanting to engage students in the climate change debate

Secondary, Middle

Description

By 2050 young people will be living with the choices made today. A 13 year old today will be 52 years old in 2050 and may have children of their own. What future would they choose? 

My 2050 School's Toolkit lets students decide how they would fuel the world in 2050 and compare their choices to others online. Students explore the challenges we face in reducing carbon emissions while maintaining reliable and secure energy supplies. They grapple with the choices involved using an on-line simulation that requires making decisions with respect to energy supply and demand in order to reach target of reducing greenhouse emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 .

The My2050 world that students choose can be shared on Facebook and Twitter and thereby compare and debate different options.

General Assessment

Strengths

The resource's strengths include the following

  • authenticity - the Toolkit experience is based on real issues and possible solutions
  • complexity - recognizes the framework in which options may be explored 
  • relevancy - links possible responses to climate change to local and individual action
  • action oriented - students examine how they might influence others and what individual action they may take
  • innovative - uses interactive technology to help students realize the options available and the possible impact of each and allow students to join a larger community of students in submitting their response to the challenges presented by the  UK Climate Change Act

Weaknesses

The resources weaknesses 

  • time allotted to each of the activities rather limited but teachers can adjust accordingly 

What important ideas are implied by the resource, but not taught explicitly?

On completing the resource students may be more aware of the either-or fallacy that suggests that only two options are available. They will recognize that sometimes a blending of options is best, that trade-offs are sometimes necessary. They may emerge less susceptible to the silver bullet solutions that are sometimes offered to complex problems.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Climate Change
  • Citizenship (3)

    • Community-Building and Participation
    • Ecological Footprint
    • Sustainable Consumption
  • Economics (2)

    • Corporate Social Responsibility
    • Globalization
  • Energy (3)

    • Alternative Energy
    • Energy Generation
    • Energy Use
  • Governance (1)

    • Government Regulations
  • Human Health & Environment (2)

    • Environmental Justice
    • Quality of Life
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Transportation

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Bias Minimization Good

No particular point of view is advanced by the resource. A goal is set - to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below 1990 levels - and students establish the level of ambition with respect to supply options (bio-fuel production, nuclear power, clean coal and gas power, wind turbines, etc,) and demand options (business greenness, home efficiency,method of travel, transport fuel, etc.)in order to achieve the desired result.The ensuing discussion among students will serve to outline the spectrum of views within the classroom.

The lesson plan, Stakeholders Views - Supply and Demand role play,explores the ways in which people’s values and attitudes differ on the issue of climate change. 

Bias Minimization: Presents as many different points of view as necessary to fairly address the issue(s).
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

The simulation is arranged so that students are provided information about the implications of each of the options. While the information is somewhat introductory, it does serve to identify the main considerations attached to each option and can be supplemented by further research.

An accompanying lesson plan on the Causes and Effects of Climate Change may be expected to have students understand the social, economic and environmental implications of climate change. The Supply and Demand Role Play will also alert students to the perspective of the various groups represented therein.

A 2050 calculator that allows student to see the effects of various energy options on supply, demand and greenhouse gas emissions provides additional information. Links to the government's Stern Report includes further information about the economic, social, and environmental effects of climate change.

Further information is available on the Department of Energy and Climate Change Website (DECC) website.

The 2050 calculator, the Stern Report and the information found on the Climate Change Website (DECC) website require a degree of sophistication from the student and are therefore more appropriate for the upper range (Ages 14-16) of the intended student audience.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

The resource effectively addresses multiple dimensions of problems and solutions. These should include the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

Respects Complexity Good

The simulation assumes that there are no silver bullets in meeting energy reduction targets but rather a mix of options on the supply and demand side are required to reach the CO2 targets. It also helps students recognize the need to balance energy supply and demand and alerts students when, for instance, the cumulative effect of their decisions on demand exceeds the total energy produced by their supply options.

Respects Complexity: The complexity of problems is respected. A systems-thinking approach is encouraged.
Action Experience Good

The resource contains a series of lesson plans entitled Spheres of Influence, each of which explores possible student action with respect to climate change. The lesson plans are linked to specific subject areas as outlined below.

  • Citizenship:Influencing Others -students think about  what they can do to influence people, organisations and the government around the 2050 target.
  • Geography: Global Implications -explores the global implications of students’ learning.
  • Science:Individual Actions - helps students to identify with their learning as individuals as well as place their learning within their school by having them determine how much energy they think they would save per day by taking various individual actions.
  • Optional extra activities for the whole school include ideas to help extend the learning from this lesson to the wider school community (poster competition, work with local primary school, school debate, creating a film, school fair)

As a Summary of Learning  exercise students are to write 3 pledges that they will do to support the UK’s target to reduce its CO2 emissions. These could be as an individual, at home, in the school or in the local community.

Action Experience: Provides opportunities for authentic action experiences in which students can work to make positive change in their communities.
  • Poor = action activities poorly developed
  • Satisfactory = action opportunities are extensions instead of being integral to the main part of the activity
Action Skills Poor/Not considered
Action Skills: Explicitly teaches the skills needed for students to take effective action (e.g. letter-writing, consensus-building, etc.).
Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory

The supply and Demand role play lesson helps students understand the concerns of various groups that will be affected by policies designed to combat climate change.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

Student examination of the consequences of climate change may be expected to lead to a heightened understanding of the impact climate change will have on the planet and its occupants -changes in ecosystems,loss of diversity,environmental refugees, etc. Awareness and understanding are a pre-requisite for interest and concern.

Personal Affinity with Earth: Actively encourages a personal affinity with non-humans and with Earth. For example, this may involve practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors.
Locally-Focused Good

The lesson, My2050Town, asks the students to become the council of a town that has decided to convert to renewable energy sources. It makes them aware of compromises which have to be made in the future. 

A variation of the MY2050Town requires students to research the costs involved in renewable energy and give an estimate for how much their town will need to spend. A further differentiation ask students to imagine that the council’s budget has been cut but they remain committed to renewable energy. With this new budget, how would the energy choices they make be affected? Students will have to change their original choices

Locally-Focused: Encourages learning that is locally-focused/made concrete in some way and is relevant to the lives of the learners.
Past, Present & Future Good

Certain of the additional resources provide data (an interactive display of statistics that show global CO2 emissions since 1820) that would allow teachers and students to explore the pattern of climate change in the past and the possible explanations for that change but the focus of this resource is on the future - how do we reduce the UK's carbon emissions by 80% below the 1990 levels by 2050? what are the options? what lifestyle changes may be required? how do we maintain reliable and secure energy supplies?

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Very Good

The main component of the resource is a lesson based on an online simulation that allows students to face the challenges involved in reducing carbon emissions while maintaining reliable and secure energy supplies. Students consider the combination of supply and demand options available and make their choices.according to what they understand as "the best solution".On completion they may submit their My World solution online.

Once the simulation is complete, students discuss the criteria they used to achieve their ideal solution; the key messages suggested by their efforts;whether they need additional information to make better choices; if they would be happy to live in the world they created; and would they be willing to make the changes indicated.

This process has the effect of ensuring that students recognize that the challenge is great, the solution complex, and the required commitment life changing.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning Very Good

The resource includes,in addition to the simulation, a series of lesson plans or "plenary activities" organized according to subject areas (Citizenship, Geography, Science and Math). Within these lesson plans, students consider where they stand on selected issues, how they might influence others, the different values and attitudes reflected in the climate change debate, the financial and social costs of various "solutions", the relative merits of different energy sources, or they develop graphs that illustrate the data submitted by others who have participated in the My2050World simulation.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning: Multidisciplinary= addresses a number of different subjects Interdisciplinary= integrated approach that blurs subject lines Good: The resource provides opportunities for learning in a number of traditional 'subject' areas (eg. Language Arts, Science, Math, Art, etc.). Very Good: The resource takes an integrated approach to teaching that blurs the lines between subject boundaries.
Discovery Learning Good

The resource defines the issue/topic that students must address- how to reach the 2050 targets with respect to carbon emissions-but the simulation is designed to have students determine how to best reach the target within the restraints imposed. The "ah-hah" moment(s) are likely to occur when students come to realize the complexity of the challenge and the implications of different choices. 

Discovery Learning:

Learning activities are constructed so that students discover and build knowledge for themselves and develop largely on their own an understanding of concepts, principles and relationships. They often do this by wrestling with questions, and/or solving problems by exploring their environment, and/or physically manipulating objects and/or performing experiments.

  • Satisfactory = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use & some direction on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides some opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event
  • Good = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use, & make their own decisions on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides definite opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event.
  • Very Good = Students choose what questions to investigate as well as the materials/strategies to use to answer them.
Values Clarification Good

One of the Citizenship lesson plans, Where do you stand?,  is designed to have students consider their values by occupying a position on a continuum(strongly agree to strongly disagree) in response to a series of statements re. energy policies; to explain why they "stand" where they do; and to move if persuaded by the explanation of those who take other stands.

The exercise is then expanded to have students imagine that they are government officials responsible for climate change policies and to "take a stand" that reflects the need for the government to consider the values of citizens. 

Values Clarification: Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
  • Poor = Students are not explicitly given an opportunity to clarify their own values.
  • Satisfactory = Students are given a formal opportunity to clarify their own values. The range of perspectives in the resource is limited, therefore, students do not have an appropriate amount of information to clarify their own values.
Differentiated Instruction Good

Each of the subject lesson plans include two options that allow teachers to choose that most appropriate for their class. Each of these optional lesson plans consists of the core lesson, a variation on that core, and a further differentiation. 

Differentiated Instruction: Activities address a range of learning styles/different intelligences. They teach to both cognitive and affective domains. Accommodations are suggested for people with learning difficulties.
Experiential Learning Satisfactory

The core of the resource is the My2050 simulation in which students choose among energy supply and demand options to reach the intended goal of CO2 reductions. The plenary activities include opportunities for role play 

Experiential Learning: Direct, authentic experiences are used.
  • Satisfactory = simulation
  • Good = authentic experience
  • Very Good = authentic experience related to the primary goal of the lesson
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

Many of the Plenary activities rely on student grouping to accomplish the tasks involved. Students are arranged in groups to role play the position representative of various interests in debating the need to adjust energy supply and demand; to decide collectively what individual action might take to reduce C02 emissions; to promote alternative energy;to analyze My2050World data; and to create My2050Town.

Cooperative Learning: Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
  • Satisfactory = students work in groups
  • Good = cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good = cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered

The teacher-directed discussion that is part of the simulation and each of the Plenary Activities provide opportunities for formative evaluation of student understanding. The Activities also generate student  "products" that can form part of the evaluation process.

The Summary of Learning serves as a final evaluation in asking students to complete pledge cards in which they commit to support the efforts to reduce CO2 emissions in their home, school or community.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory

The Plenary Activities provide considerable opportunities for student interaction. Students are asked to defend their solutions to the energy challenges; to explain how they would influence others,to articulate the perspectives of the stakeholders they role play and their position on energy issues; to share their research on energy alternatives,the conclusions they reach from their data analysis, and the image they have of My Town 2050. 

The Optional Extra Activities outline opportunities in their school and the local primary school to raise the awareness of  and understanding of the challenges related to reducing CO2 emissions and the solutions  that may help realize the established targets with respect to reducing those emissions.

Peer Teaching: Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
  • Satisfactory = incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good = an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Very Good

The My2050 Toolkit has students focus on a real challenge - reaching the targets demanded by the UK Climate Change Act of 2008. This allows students to examine and discuss a number of issues related to the climate change debate and to contribute their suggestions as to meet those challenges. 

Case Studies: Relevant case studies are used. Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events in real situations that can be used to examine concepts in an authentic context.
Locus of Control Satisfactory

While the resource delineates the parameters of the study -possible responses to UK Climate Change Act - the on-line simulation, My2050 Toolkit, respects student autonomy in allowing students to determine how to best navigate the energy supply and demand paradigm to meet the Act's goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The variations and differentiations included in each of the Plenary Activities has the possibility of further student input in the direction of the resource. 

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.