School News

Lowell Hosts Climate Education Institute

This summer, Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy held its fourteenth annual Summer Institute for Climate Change Education at Lowell. It was the first summer institute to focus on teaching climate change through the lens of the humanities, and it drew both public and private school teachers from around the country.

Throughout the week teachers attended seminars, participated in role-playing scenarios like the World Climate Simulation, learned about Washington DC’s climate action plan, and investigated new resources for teaching about climate change through literature, art, and action projects. Lowell's humanities coordinator, Natalie Stapert, is the author of two of the humanities modules that were featured at the Institute and was a co-presenter in four of the seminars.
Stapert also represented Lowell as co-host for the three-day event. Lowell 7th grader Abigail Stark wrote and narrated a video to welcome teachers to Lowell, and 7th graders Neo White, Bella Calamine, and Nora Schulman helped Stapert and her co-presenter, Craig Johnson, share the World Climate Simulation with conference participants.
The Institute's opening remarks were given by Crystal Proctor, clan mother from the Turkey Clan of the Piscataway people of southern Maryland. Proctor explained to the group that Europeans invaded her people’s land, and her people had not had a chance to welcome them. She stood before the Institute participants to extend that welcome now and to underscore the importance of honoring the earth and native peoples’ experiences. She also stressed the value of all people coming together to ensure the earth’s well-being for future generations.
The Institute’s keynote speakers were Mamta Mehra, PhD, senior fellow at Project Drawdown, and John Cook, research assistant professor at the Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University, and founder of
Cook’s presentation, "Responding to Climate Change Misinformation," inspired Stapert to develop a unit to teach Lowell students how to recognize suspicious information. Stapert is also planning to incorporate a drawdown design challenge into Lowell’s 6th grade climate curriculum.
Teachers came from elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as community colleges, and they represented both the sciences and the humanities. “Meeting local teachers was really exciting because that group can come back together,” Stapert remarked. She is hoping to reconnect with colleagues who came from the nearby school districts of DC and Montgomery, Prince Georges, and Arlington counties later this year.

Caitlin Thompson, who teaches AP Human Geography at Sherwood High School in Montgomery County, MD, said, “I am so incredibly grateful to Climate Generation and to Natalie at Lowell for all the help deepening my understanding…Without question, this was the most valuable and interesting professional development I have ever attended.”

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How Teachers Can Empower the Climate Generation (EOS)

Summer Institute for Climate Change Education (Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy)