EMPOWERING PRE-COLLEGE STUDENTS TO ENGAGE IN CLIMATE CHANGE SOLUTIONS
HAINE, Dana, Institute for the Environment, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB#1105, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, email@example.com
Educators engaged in the climate literacy movement are aware that possession of knowledge about the earth’s climate and the causes and consequences of climate change is not always sufficient to empower individuals to change their behavior and become advocates for actions that promote a sustainable future. By educating students about the consequences of a fossil fuel based economy, by featuring scientists and engineers who are working to develop solutions to increase the use of renewable energy sources, and by providing opportunities to develop science communication and leadership skills, the Climate Leadership and Energy Awareness Program (Climate LEAP) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill fosters a community of engaged youth and builds the capacity of the next generation of adults to address climate change. Experienced science educators with UNC-Chapel Hill’s Institute for the Environment’ (IE), the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center (MPSC) and the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) partner with diverse scientists and engineers to implement Climate LEAP with rising 9th -12th grade students from neighboring counties. Approximately two thirds of program participants are female and one third belong to ethnic groups underrepresented in STEM careers. Students participate in a one-week, non-residential Summer Institute on campus and are asked to participate in follow-up Saturday Academies during the academic year.
In addition to increasing their knowledge and understanding of climate change science and the solutions proposed to address climate change, program participants engage members of their community on the topics of climate change, energy awareness and/or sustainability through implementation of one or more community outreach projects. Of the 126 students who have completed the program since its inception in 2009, 86 (68%) completed at least one community outreach project. In addition, a recent survey of program alumni (n=28) indicated that 90% of respondents were motivated by the program to make at least one behavior change to conserve energy and natural resources in their daily life.
This session will include a description of the year-long program and the informal learning assessment strategies utilized along with program evaluation data.