Experiential learning field trip; a model for educators!

Make a commitment to use your community as a place of climate action!

Solutions to climate change are not in some far off place that cannot be attained. Solutions are local, they are happening now, and you can get involved! We encourage educators to bring their students out into their communities to participate in experiential learning, so they can see their home as a place of climate action.

We want to help prepare students to design solutions to problems that align with their personal values and help their communities and the world. This is where our new geo-inquiry field trip model comes in!

When students are a part of an entire process, the problem and the solutions become more relevant to their lives — and it helps them practice science, rather than just learn it. Students are more invested in the action because they are not just being told it’s important, they have seen it along the way.

ArcGIS is a mapping software available for the classroom that helps facilitate this type of learning. It is available for free to all districts in the country. We have incorporated this tool into many of our lesson plans and programming; it helps students think critically, use real data, and connects them to their communities.

Why use GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to understand climate change?

  • Climate change intersects with all aspects of our lives, and GIS helps students understand content in a variety of disciplines: geography, history, mathematics, ELA, environmental studies, chemistry, biology, etc.
  • The systems at play that have contributed to the current state of climate change need to be understood by this generation of youth, so they can find ways to work on solutions. GIS is inquiry-driven, problem-solving, standards-based, and field-oriented.
  • We need students to get excited about green career opportunities, and GIS provides the foundation for green career pathways.

Are you an educator? Follow these steps to create an experiential field trip around your community to find solutions to climate change!

  1. Find out if your city or school has a Climate Action Plan, and gather information on what is being done to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
  2. All school districts can get free access to ArcGIS. Find your school account here.
  3. Think of a question or problem you want to address in your community or school related to climate change.
    • What solutions to climate change exist in your city that support the climate action plan?
    • Find evidence of redevelopment, redesign, or settings that reflect the change of your city over the past five years.
  4. Use the Survey123 app within ArcGIS. This mapping tool allows you to collect your own data. You create a survey that asks questions and gathers information you will need to understand and analyze different aspects of the problem you are addressing. The survey can be accessed on a browser on your smartphone that looks something like this:
  5. You will need time to walk and transit around your community, so we recommend doing this on a day-long field trip, or over a period of weeks or months to be able to collect enough data to analyze.
  6. Divide students into groups and give them instructions for how many sites they are responsible for collecting data from. The survey should be completed each time you are at a new site. Here are some examples of the type of data you may want to collect:
    • Divide your data into categories: Mitigation, Adaptation, Green Infrastructure, Conversations, Social Justice and Equity, Needs Improvement
    • Examples to look for: Cooling Places, Flooding, Public Transportation, Energy Efficiency, White or Green Rooftops, Stormwater Management, Waste Management, Urban Heat Islands
    • Topics to consider:
      • Have a conversation with someone about climate change
      • Find an example of multi-family affordable housing
      • Find an example of a green career
      • Find solutions in marginalized communities
  1. Survey123 will collect the information in real time. You can see the points come up on the map along with the associated data that goes with each survey answer.
  2. When you are done collecting data, you can come back to the classroom and analyze results within your survey.
    • You will be able to filter and analyze the data collected not only from the mapping feature…
    • But also from the other questions you choose to include in the survey…
  1. Decide what action should be taken with these new findings! Have students brainstorm new ideas and ways to take action on climate change in their community or school.
  2. Check out our Take Action Guide! It includes a step-by-step walkthrough of everything you need to pull off your project!

What teachers are saying about using geo-inquiry to teach climate change…

“I want students to look closely at their community and see the activities and initiatives that are already happening to mitigate climate change, so they understand that they can have an immediate impact on the issue.”

“Survey123 can be incorporated into what I already do with nature walks and could be put in my science or government classes.”

“Survey123 is a great way to capture data as well as compare different findings.”

“It is technology, so a high interest for students.”

“We can use this to map items of interest in downtown Raleigh, and using mapping tools to understand geography is paired perfectly with our curriculum.”

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