This week, Biosphere Explorers project officer Carys has been working with local schools to get pupils outdoors and learning about COP26 (the conference tackling climate change, to be held in Glasgow this year).
The outdoor workshops started by looking at what was natural and manmade around the pupils, to encourage their awareness of the environment around them and their school. We saw and heard everything from the shuffling on Astroturf, to red kites calling above.
Once the pupils had grounded themselves with this activity, we asked them what they knew about climate change. There was quite a range of understanding between and within classes, but at the end of the activity they all had a good understanding of the causes and effects of climate change. A quick warm-up game was played where they were each handed a card from our Carbon Busters resources. The card either had a cause (such as landfills or traffic) and effects (such as flooding, or droughts). The groups were asked to run to either end of their outdoor space depending on what they saw. This facilitated good discussion, including what cards could be both causes and effects, such as the wildfires.
The next game involved looking at a country’s carbon footprint. Pupils generally had a good idea of what made up their individual carbon footprint, and so made the leap of understanding about a country’s footprint easily.
Each pupils had a country’s card, which had their annual carbon emissions written down. They had to work with the class to peg the card in the correct place – in order from lowest to highest on a washing line, noting whether the units were in millions or billions of tonnes of CO2.
This game always allows great discussion for the ways of living in countries with the smallest and largest carbon footprints, as well as why the UK was where it was – roughly in the middle of the line. For older pupils, they played another round of the game where they looked at total, historic, emissions. Here, the UK jumps up in the line, so it is a great place to talk about the history of developed countries (typically at the expense of less developed countries).
The activity is a great way of bringing discussion into what COP26 is, and why it needs to be fair and just.
Finally, the class was split into groups and spoke about what we can each do to minimise our carbon footprint, including things that can be done in schools – such as joining eco-groups or asking for more recycling bins. The suggestions were shared with the class and written down on cards to leave with their teachers.
We hope that the pupils will remember some of the ideas they came up with and share them with family and friends, to encourage more positive change. As COP26 is spoken about more and more on the news and by teachers, pupils should recognise what it means – and most importantly, what it means for them.
Over the last two weeks we worked with Crossmichael, Castle Douglas, and Kirkcudbright primaries - including indoor workshops which we wrote about here. We look forward to working with more schools within the Galloway Glens region after the October holidays.
Many thanks to the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership for funding our work.