NASA Grant To Fund Online Professional Development for Climate Change Education

PBS Teacherline, the online preK-12 professional development resource of the Public Broadcasting Service, has announced it has received a NASA Global Climate Change Education (GCCE) Grant to provide professional development courses and teaching resources to encourage the teaching of climate change topics in conjunction with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

The rise in awareness of global warming and the myriad of related ecological, biological, and economic issues has led to great consternation, especially among young people. A 2007 survey concluded that among middle school-aged children in the United States, U.K., and Australia climate change is of greater concern than disease, terrorism, or war.

As with just about any topic of concern, education, NASA said, is the key to practical, reasoned approaches and panic avoidance. The $600,000 GCCE Grant is aimed at ensuring that teachers are adequately trained to educate students to the point at which they'll understand the issues and dangers, ask the necessary questions, set realistic priorities, and possibly become either politically or occupationally active in dealing with the ongoing problem.

PBS TeacherLine's program under the grant "uses an innovative approach to provide teacher professional development and create highly useful, sustainable teaching modules that will greatly enhance the skills of science teachers and positively impact student learning," said NASA GCCE Project Manager Sharon Welch. "The program is well aligned with NASA's goals and education mission as these high-quality courses and related modules will broaden middle and high school teachers' knowledge of climate change while also increasing their awareness and use of critical NASA data, tools and resources."

The grant will primarily fund two online professional development courses on the topic for middle and high school teachers. The courses will include:

  • Strengthening teachers' knowledge of the science of climate change;
  • Enabling teachers to use STEM instructional techniques to investigate climate change with their students; and
  • Facilitating the integration of data, models, and other resources from NASA into classroom instruction; data come from current missions such as Terra, Aura, and SORCE, through which NASA is generating information for the study of climate change, including measurements of atmospheric temperatures, sea ice thickness and extent, solar radiation, sea surface height, and aerosol concentrations.

In addition, the grant will fund 10 online self-paced learning modules that will provide instruction on critical, up-to-date knowledge to teachers of climate change, as well as activities that can serve to augment classroom instruction.

Said Melinda George, senior director of PBS TeacherLine, "The Teaching Climate Change program explores arguably the most pervasive and influential issue of our time to ensure teachers and students gain the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in the 21st century and protect Earth for generations to come."

The professional development courses and modules are slated to become available through Teacherline beginning in summer 2012.

About the Author

Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.