May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Climate Change Adaptation: Students Have a Role

Posted: Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

by Phyllis Grifman and Linda Chilton

As leaders of society’s next generation, teachers foster and facilitate learning and help prepare students to engage intellectually as well as socially. Students can learn the principles of stewardship and conservation and they are inspired to become decision makers and problem solvers today and in the future. This is especially important in addressing climate change. The impacts of climate change require both mitigation, reducing our use of fossil fuels and shifting to more conservative use of resources; and adaptation, preparing our communities to be more resilient in responding to the impacts of climate change.

Since the science of climate change and its many applications are still in nascent stages, many educators do not yet have the background understanding to develop what is needed to prepare students for addressing these critical concepts. In the Los Angeles region, the ocean interface with the massive urban development is under increased pressure from the impacts of growing population and climate change. Because the impacts brought by sea level rise are not uniform around the world, they must be examined in a regional context under a lens that accounts for other physical factors such as El Niño/La Niña and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and changing storm patterns. Educators need the tools to bring focus to these factors in order to educate the next generation to predict the potential impacts of climate change and urban pressures on the Los Angeles region.

Factors that must be considered when considering vulnerabilities to any hazards, including climate change, include

  • exposure, – nature and degree to which a system experiences as stress or hazard
  • sensitivity – the degree which exposed assets would be impaired
  • adaptive capacity – ability of an asset t make adjustments in response to climate change; and
  • consequences – the adverse effects that occur as a result of an asset being impaired.

These must be examined in the context of geographic location, population density, societal characteristics, governance, and local, regional, state and federal political institutions.

The USC Sea Grant Program plays an instrumental role in assessing the state of climate adaptation preparedness throughout California. In the Los Angeles region, the USC Sea Grant Program coordinated a study to assess sea level rise vulnerabilities for the City of Los Angeles. Officials from the City of Los Angeles and regional stakeholders collaborated to provide invaluable input in the process of assessing the City’s vulnerability. This work provides an example of how diverse disciplines must work together to present a holistic picture for the region. The team of experts working on the “AdaptLA” project included:

  • a coastal oceanographer/physicist with expertise in coastal processes,
  • a geophysical modeler who studies hazard risk,
  • a social scientist with expertise in climate change adaptation, social vulnerability, and risk communications,
  • a coastal engineer with expertise in coastal hazards and potential adaptation methodologies, municipal officials,
  • an economist with expertise in assessing the impacts of natural disasters; and of course,
  • the USC Sea Grant climate team.

Using of a template, officials systematically assessed risks to municipal assets and identified several vulnerabilities. At-risk critical coastal infrastructure includes power plants, wastewater treatment plants, roads, and beaches. Beaches provide not only ecosystem services, but contribute millions of tourism dollars to the economy. The protection provided by wide beaches requires regular monitoring and to remain effective as barriers to rising seas. Sea level rise impacts will require an increased effort to stabilize and replenish beaches; south-facing beaches such as San Pedro’s Cabrillo Beach recently saw tremendous impact from the extended effects of offshore hurricanes.

USC Sea Grant Program also partnered with Heal the Bay in an outreach program for the vulnerable communities of Venice/Marina Del Rey and San Pedro/Wilmington/Long Beach. At an inaugural Youth Forum held on the USC campus, students learned about vulnerabilities in their own communities and participated in a survey examining hazard preparedness in their own neighborhoods. The Forum informed participants about local stewardship efforts, engaging residents and decision makers in these communities by sharing the findings from the AdaptLA report and recruiting them to participate in developing adaptation plans. Participants included policy makers, community leaders, students and their teachers.

The effects of a king tide. Photo credit: Alyssa Newton Mann

The effects of a king tide. Photo credit: Alyssa Newton Mann

Students and teachers gain an understanding of the relevance of learning about climate change through classroom activities. Through engagement programs, students put learning into action in their own communities, reaching out to help communities better prepare for flooding in their neighborhoods, and helping to survey community members to ascertain their awareness and understanding of climate change impacts. In the future, student groups will participate in the “King Tides” Initiative, using photography to record extreme high and low tides. This is designed to illustrate potential effects of sea level rise and identify places where planners and residents need to consider how to plan and protect vulnerable structures. Opportunities continue to provide ways for teachers and students to contribute to help their own communities become more resilient in the face of a changing climate.

Phyllis Grifman is Associate Director and Linda Chilton is the Education Coordinator, both with the USC Sea Grant Program. Linda is a member of CSTA.

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 2017)

Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.