Not too long ago Coral Ben-Aharon, a 15-year-old sophomore at Granada Hills Charter High School, didn’t bother to use her school’s recycling bins — and didn’t know how plastic waste contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
But then her friend Sarah Ali convinced Coral to join the science team. Now the two are trying to invent a creative way to recycle waste on campus by melting discarded plastic and making a bench with solar panels, where students would be able to charge their school-issued Chromebooks.
Their project exemplifies how California’s science standards are taking hold in classrooms as educators seek to follow curriculum guidelines that call for more relevant, hands-on lessons and stronger instruction on climate change and the environment.
However, widespread science teacher shortages and the lack of training among many current teachers on climate change threatens the goals of the curriculum that aims in part to prepare students to be environmental problem-solvers as they enter adulthood. It also hinders an opportunity for educators to capture a newfound passion among those teenagers who are eager to engage in a growing youth climate activist movement, science educators say.
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