Climate Science Workshops for Educators with Science is Fun and WISL


Climate Science Workshops for Educators with Science is Fun and WISL

Dr. Bassam Shakhashiri's goal is to share his love of science with as many people as he can reach. Through Science is fun, he is able to accomplish that in many ways! Dr. Shakhashiri is a Chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin Madison, but his reach extends far beyond the university walls. He does public presentations, presents information on at-home science activities, and does various programs with the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy.  While the Science is Fun website has an abundance of programs and resources to offer, I want to highlight the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy Professional Development workshops that are offered for Middle and High School educators. 

I participated in the workshops in 2018, Climate Science Concepts Fit Your Classroom, and have been able to apply nearly every concept in my classroom with minimal changes to the activities I was doing.  Along with Dr. Shakhashiri, Dr. Jerry Bell and Mr. Michael Boll, as well as some Chemistry students, presented a group of about 20 educators with workshops that would not only be taken back to our classrooms but challenged us as both educators and learners ourselves. Spread out over 4 Saturdays, the workshops addressed some of the major climate change misconceptions that are out there, and ways to re-teach the concepts with the correct information in a meaningful way that students would remember and share. 

As they conveyed to us in the workshops, climate science is complicated and is based on concepts that are included in more familiar science content areas. Part of what makes it so complicated is that it involves every other scientific discipline, and as a result, many are left with an incomplete picture of what Climate Science is. As science teachers, most of us are teaching a part of that picture, but almost never the entire thing due to the nature of our discipline. Topics we covered in the workshops include phase changes, energy cycling, light, heat, temperature, molecular structure, acids and bases, isotopes, gasses, metabolism, energy conservation, food webs, and burping cows. I can say that before the workshops I covered most of these in some way in my classes already, but what the workshops gave me was a new lens to approach it with in order to be able to connect some of those pieces of the climate science puzzle for my students. As a Biology teacher, I mostly cover the life science aspects of climate change, but there are so many other important parts that are closely linked to mine that weren’t being addressed. These workshops helped me to link Biology with Chemistry, Earth Science and Physics in a way that still met the needs of my students, but also challenged them to think outside of the Biology box. Many of the activities were similar to those already being used in my classroom, and others were easily adaptable to meet my needs. 

The next workshops are still in the planning stages, but watch the Science is Fun website in the upper left test tube for Climate Science announcements for the 2020 workshops!