As we had decided to concentrate on environment related topics within our school partnership in the school year 2007/08, we focussed on climate change between November 2007 and February 2008.
In a first step we joined the Europe wide initiative I ACT for Our Common Future at the beginning of the UN Climate Conference in Bali. In this project, students from numerous European schools discuss three topics: a planet at risk (climate change), safeguarding our ecosystems (biodiversity) and living together (intercultural understanding). The goal of the project is, that young people first make themselves familiar with a topic, then carry out some research, draft ideas how the situation could be improved, and fianlly organize an event with which they draw the attention of their surroundings (at school, in the family and in the community) to the topic and invite their audience to contribute to the improvement of the situation.
Another intitiative, which discusses the topic of climate change in a very appealing way, is ENO (Environment Online).
The second step we took was to measure our eco-footprint. This activity was also very interesting for the younger students, and many of them realized, that it is high time, to take more care of our environment than they have done so far. In the German lessons, we measured our eco-footprint on a web site created by the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation, which offers the possibility, to find out how we pollute our environment in four categories: housing, food, mobility and consumption.
In the English lessons, we used the web site of Conservation International, where you can answser questions in 11 subject areas and can find out, to which of the following groups you belong: Eco Novice, Eco Apprentice, Eco Ally und Eco Warrior.
Now we had already discussed a number of environmental questions and it was high time, to take a third step and read some texts, which drew our attention to a number of ways how to raise our attention for the environment. As we go to school every day, it went without saying, that we were interested in texts about schools, which try to reduce their daily environment pollution. One of these schools is the Sidwell Friends new Middle School in Washington DC. The web site of this school offers the visitor an interesting tour of the school area, showing how the school administration, the teachers and the students try to preserve the environment. Another good example is the Sultana High School in San Bernardino (CA), where students and teachers managed to save a lot of money with rather simple measures.
We got to know about the Eco Village in Ithaca (NY), where people live in 60 eco-houses, which pollute the environment 40% less than average houses. The inhabitants give lectures at Ithaca College and Cornell University, in order to make a greater number of people familiar with their ideas and their success.
Finally, we were fascinated by the Global Warming Survival Guide published by TIME Magazine, which lists 51 ways to protect the environment. The students worked in small groups, and each group chose those two solutions they liked best, and then presented them to their classmates.
Of course, we wanted to carry on, and therefore in a fourth step watched the movie An Inconvenient Truth (by Al Gore) in order to learn more from a Nobel laureate. We were rather shocked, when we listened to and watched the facts presented by the former US Vice President.
In the meantime, very interesting and funny Mini-Videos about Climate Change are available in nearly all EU languages. Enjoy them!
© Dr. Susanne Pratscher
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