EARTH2CLASS: connecting classroom teachers with climate change research

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Monday, 18 January 2010
Michael J. Passow, Dwight Morrow HS and NESTA, Englewood, NJ; and C. M. Assumpcao and F. D. Baggio

How can classroom teachers find out about cutting-edge discoveries about climate change? One effective format has been the Earth2Class Workshops(E2C) at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University(LDEO). For more than a decade, educators from the New York metropolitan area have been able to interact through monthly workshops and special programs with LDEO scientists to learn first-hand about recent discoveries and techniques used to make them. Examples of programs include presentations by such leaders in the field as Dr. Wallace Broecker on the validity of the science in “The Day After Tomorrow” and Dr. Taro Takahashi on acidification of the oceans. Other LDEO scientists have shared their research into how global climates are changing based on studies of tree rings, corals, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, Hudson River sediments, microfossils and ice-rafted particles in deep-sea sediments, mathematical modeling, and many other approaches. Teachers return to their students inspired by contact with “real science,” rather than just the “textbook science” that too often totally occupies science classes. The E2C website, www.earth2class.org, provides archived versions of the workshops and many other resources which broaden outreach of the scientists to students and teachers anywhere in the world. In addition to climate change, E2C presentations have exposed teachers to the extensive breadth of investigations conducted at Lamont-Doherty and other components of the Columbia Earth Institute. The December 2009 E2C workshop is the 100th of this series, which have involved more than 60 LDEO scientists and several hundred teachers over the years. LDEO scientists have found E2C to be an effective format to disseminate their work more widely. Some have been willing to return year after year to provide update. E2C teachers have also benefited by preferential selection for Research Experience for Teachers programs at LDEO, advanced notification of professional development opportunities, and network with colleagues that often is not available within their schools.