This final step, where students presented what they found in their surveys, completed the arc of our project. It was essential because this is where the students mobilized and took charge of the change. In addition, in the spirit of the article that inspired this project, we wanted students to practice synthesizing and communicating their findings to a wider audience.
Some of our courses have mainly focused on creating a visual representation of their data and the results of their work. Here are some examples:
Student example 1
Student example 2
Student example 3
Others have turned their research into letters to share with an audience of their choice, such as their parents, siblings, friends, or the broader school community.
The beautiful part of this step is how much it can vary depending on your school and your students. Other ideas for getting students to share their work might include organizing a climate change evening where students present their findings to community members; create infographics for other students on the realities of climate change and what they can do about it; submit an editorial related to their topic to The Learning Network’s annual editorial competition; create messages on social networks to be published by the school; or whatever creative ideas you and your students can come up with!
Reflection: what we and our students have learned
This project was a first for all of us. The three of us tried to design a unit where students could look at data in the context of climate change and understand how it directly affects them and their communities. By the end of the unit, we are confident that students have learned to analyze and interpret complex data sets and communicate new learnings through visualization or writing of data. In math, students also learned to apply the concepts of mean, median, and mode to their own data collection practices. In science, students learned to navigate Google Sheets to create infographics from large amounts of survey data.
For us teachers, it was a fun and exciting project to plan. Instead of trying to get students to simply understand the why and how of climate change, this unit focused on one skill (interpreting data) in the context of climate change. It made the class feel different because it was engaging.
When evaluating the final survey we gave, students mentioned that they appreciated the emphasis on skills and the opportunity to learn more about a relevant topic. Specifically, being able to examine organic community data was a unique experience for most of the students.
Creating a space for data-driven conversations about climate change has proven invaluable. Our students mentioned that most of their news came from social media or that they had heard about climate change but didn’t understand much about it, so using The New York Times as a staple resource was extremely. useful. The Times and The Learning Network do a great job of making highly complex data accessible to a wide range of people through data visualizations and well-reported stories.