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Coming soon! ‘Wildlife, Weather and Climate Connections’ module for Illinois middle schools.

This excellent study, published in Nature Climate Change, demonstrated that a rigorous climate module for middle schools (NGSS and State Standards aligned) combined with outdoor service projects and student interviews of parents not only taught students about climate change but led to increased climate concern among their parents too. Even those traditionally hardest to convince.

SkyDay is now collaborating with the authors of this study to create an Illinois version of the module they used - ‘Weather, Climate and Wildlife Connections’ - to offer free to Illinois middle schools. The module comprises five lessons that can be done in two weeks (or in one, if you prefer). We are creating two versions, one for rural and one for urban schools, that will examine the differences between weather and climate, the causes of climate change and the impact of those changes on local species and habitats. We are also creating a menu of outdoor service projects your students can do to help.

Lesson 1: Weather, Climate, & Wildlife
Students collect and graph local weather data and overlay it with 30-year average temperatures for that location. They then play a game to understand the difference between weather and climate and the impacts of each on local wildlife species.

Lesson 2: Climate and Habitat
Students create maps for average temperature and rainfall in Illinois. They then overlay these with vegetation and wildlife range maps and use the comparisons to consider factors that affect regional climate and how these determine wildlife habitat.

Lesson 3: Adapting to Change
Students engage in a jig-saw activity in which student groups become experts on one major climate-related impact on wildlife (sea level rise, transforming habitats, and changing seasonal cues) or a management response (adaptive management, collaboration, or habitat conservation and restoration). Teachers then shuffle these groups so that a representative from each expert group is represented in a new small group. These groups are then asked to consider what likely impacts will affect a local wildlife species and what a good management response would be.

Lesson 4: Doing Our Part
Students complete an online ecological footprint calculator and complete an activity to connect personal actions to building wildlife resilience to climate change.

Lesson 5: Bringing It All together
Students participate in a service-learning project with a community partner, interview their parents/guardians, and complete a reflective blog post.

After review by our experts and by our Teacher Focus Group we will publish the module here by the end of 2019 so as to make it all available to you for class time in April/May If you are an Illinois middle school science teacher interested in joining our volunteer focus group please contact us using the form below.