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Curious students pitch their questions about our changing climate

Tasmanian school students can now ask climate experts everything they want to know about climate change.

With news of fires, floods and heatwaves in the media every day, and the IPCC’s stark report on the state of our climate just out, climate change is in the forefront of people’s minds. This may be especially so for young people, whose futures are being shaped by global heating.

But accessing credible, up-to-date and local information about climate change is not always straightforward for young people. So an interdisciplinary group of climate change researchers at the University of Tasmania is making it easier for 11-18 year olds to get answers, through a new project, Curious Climate Schools.

“Curious Climate schools is a program for Tasmanian school students from Grades 5-12,” says Dr Gabi Mocatta, Research Fellow in Climate Change Communication, and one of the project leaders.

“This is student-led enquiry: we want to know what climate change questions are on Tasmanian students’ minds, and to give them the opportunity to have their questions answered directly by experts.”

The program is kicking off now with teachers being asked to register their interest. Teachers can submit their students’ questions up until the end of Term 3 - they’ll then be answered by the university’s world-leading climate researchers.

“Students really want to know more about climate change; it deeply affects them,” says Department of Education teacher Rachel Page.

Despite this interest from students, there isn’t currently a big focus on holistic climate literacy learning in the Australian curriculum – a gap this program hopes to fill.

“I’m excited that this program allows opportunities for students to have their questions answered by experts,” says Rachel Page.

Curious Climate Schools will culminate in November 2021 at the time of the United Nations’ crucial Conference of the Parties (COP26) climate negotiations, to be held in Glasgow from 1-12 November. At this time, university climate experts will either visit schools in person, answer questions live online, or directly on the project website. The site will become a comprehensive resource for students and teachers, providing a snapshot of place-based climate interest and concern among young people throughout Tasmania.

The Curious Climate Schools project builds on Curious Climate Tasmania, a successful program run by researchers at the Centre for Marine Socioecology at IMAS, in conjunction with the CSIRO and the ABC. During 2019, scientists criss-crossed the state to answer questions from the public on climate change.

Curious Climate Schools is currently asking teachers to register their interest in participating with their class. Please see the project site and registration portal here: https://curiousclimate.org.au/schools/

Published on: 31 Aug 2021 10:00am