Dynamic Climate Change Education Programs Could Boost Interest in Advanced STEM Subjects

Kid’s interest in STEM subjects is in decline, with recent research showing that the interest in science has dropped by 10 percent since 2015, with a decrease also visible in design and ICT/computing. The reasons for the big drop in interest include time pressures to cover the whole curriculum, a lack of equipment resources, disruptions in class, and a simple lack of interest from pupils. There could be a solution to this conundrum, however, with researchers from Surrey’s Global Center for Air Research (GCARE) having developed a learning program that boosted climate change literacy among 79 percent of primary and 62 percent of secondary school students.

Learning While Having Fun

The program, called Heat-Cool, engaged pupils in a host of engaging activities, including the use of infrared cameras to explore the “urban heat island” phenomenon—one that causes urban areas without green spaces to experience higher temperatures than surrounding green areas. The research has proven that the “doom and gloom” approach to environmental education—which emphasizes the dire future that may like ahead—is doing nothing more than alienating young people from the important question of climate change. Taking a more practical, fun, real-life approach to the topic is liable to result in greater knowledge and, more importantly, interest in the subject. The researchers also fund that the program stimulated an interest in STEM subjects.

Why are STEM Subjects Needed by Young Eco-Warriors?

You may be wondering why mastering the subjects contained classic STEM books like Schaum’s Outline of Differential Equations, 4th edition or David Klein’s Organic Chemistry, 4th edition are key for future planetary warriors. These books, and the subjects they cover, are important for global saviors wishing to use data and modelling to assess the impact of global warming. Complex problems like Navier-Stokes equations, for instance, are expanded in to a complex system of three differential equations to model factors such as the temperature, velocity, density, and pressure of moving fluids and to work out how they are all related. As challenging as they are, these equations merely require practice and commitment. Fun learning programs can motivate students to stay on track and work on this type of equation until solving them becomes second-nature. Barraging students with tough exercises from the start only distances them from the subjects they need to master if they wish to make a real difference.

The Interest in STEM Subjects Needs to Start Young

The study was carried out with over 100 students, who completed before-and-after tests to check their environmental literacy. Kids’ knowledge of climate changed jumped by 9.4 percent in primary school and 4.5 percent in secondary school. Study co-author, Sebastian Pfautsch from Western Sydney University in Australia, felt that fun, active programs such as Heat-Cool empowered students to become earth’s future stewards by focusing on the most entertaining aspects of a real-life global warrior’s professional tasks.

If nations across the globe wish to spark an interest in STEM subjects in children and youths, fun is the way forward. This is the result of a recent study on primary and secondary students. These participants took part in the Heat-Cool program, which saw them using infrared cameras to learn more about urban heat islands. This type of activity is not only educational, but also empowering, since it shows children what a job in environmental science actually involves.

Will Fastiggi
Will Fastiggi

Originally from England, Will is an Upper Primary Coordinator now living in Brazil. He is passionate about making the most of technology to enrich the education of students.

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