Climate Units

from The Springfield Renaissance School

This site provides documentation of Environmental Science and Climate Crisis Units conducted at the Springfield Renaissance School, an Expeditionary Learning school where students engage on long-term interdisciplinary units that take them out of the classroom and into the world outside as mission-driven actors. 

Changing Nature

Exploring a park to connect to the natural world and care how humans affect it. 

Reducing Waste

Exploring where school lunch waste goes and what can be done to reduce it. 

Climate Science

The basics: carbon cycle, weather vs climate, projections, mitigation and adaptation.

Climate Justice

Environmental Justice communities (Springfield, Puerto Rico) share situations. 

Changing Nature:
Exploring and connecting to Abbey Brook Park and surrounding neighborhoods.

Many Springfield students have made personal connections to nature, fearing to encounter prickers, poison ivy, mud, bugs, and even ticks! To learn to observe and make sense of the natural world, we used a STARS grant to work with Mass Audubon naturalists and educators to explore an urban park to connect to the natural world and care about how humans affect it. 

Reducing Food Waste:
Students analyze a problem, present a solution, change school practice.

The expedition kicked off with a trip to the Sustainathon Conference, a climate change and sustainability based event hosted by Springfield Technical Community College and Springfield Public Schools. Students were inspired by guest speakers on sustainability topics and reviewed student projects from other schools in the district to wage their own campaign.

Climate Science:
Carbon cycle, weather vs climate, projections, mitigation, adaptation.

In a series of slide-heavy lessons that drew, by necessity, on data and experiences that were new to them, we learned to model the greenhouse effect and the carbon cycle and distinguish weather vs climate, grappling with climate projections, and learning about mitigation and adaptation strategies, including those affecting our own neighborhood and the environments of our partner classrooms in Puerto Rico. 

Environmental Justice Partners
Learning and sharing about harmful histories in Puerto Rico and Springfield. 

Connecting across the climate justice divide with classroom partners helped our students, many of whom have Puerto Rican ancestry,  appreciate the experience of those who remain in a US territory with a history of colonial exploitation, environmental injustice, and increasing vulnerability is responding  to hurricanes and other climate impacts.  

Youth Climate Action
Connecting to student climate activist groups in our school, region and state. 

Appreciating how we can all change how our leaders address the crisis beyond the ballot box, and what young people across the world and around here are doing.   Fellow student Anabel Lopez is a member of the Youth Climate Action Network, and is joined by founder Ollie Mae Perrault for a class presentation, discussions, and climate action visions.