Over 40 educators from around the country convened at Macalester College for the 2016 Summer Institute for Climate Change Education – a four-day conference focused on gaining the skills to integrate climate change into a variety of educational settings. We support teachers through the challenges they face in teaching about this subject, and they gain the confidence and competence to bring this relevant topic to today’s youth, who will feel the full force of the effects of climate change. Every year, educators who go through this conference walk away with curricula resources, insights from keynote speakers, and practical lessons to implement in their classrooms and nonformal education settings.


This year’s Summer Institute focused on our newest curriculum, Next Generation Climate. This resource framed our topics, lessons, speakers, and discussions for the week, and supports the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). We devoted the Summer Institute to this resource recognizing that climate change provides a real-world context for learning the disciplinary core ideas of climate change and utilizing the scientific and engineering practices outlined in NGSS. We also found it important to focus on this approach because, while climate change impacts us all, its impacts are disproportionately felt by communities of color and low income communities. The Next Generation Science Standards were written to engage all students in science and engineering, and as the population – and the climate – changes, we must be better at preparing all students for future careers in STEM fields.

Each day included a guiding question that was then addressed through curriculum lessons and speaker content, so that by the end of the week the educators had a robust knowledge base of climate change, impacts, and solutions. Guiding questions included:

  1. What evidence is there to show there is a rise in global temperature?
  2. What factors have caused the rise in global temperature over the last century?
  3. What are the repercussions of the rise in global temperature? What do you need to monitor them?
  4. In what ways can the repercussions of climate change be minimized?

The attendees this year came from a variety of backgrounds; from formal science teachers to informal educators, from pre-K to higher education, this diversity provided rich dialogue and the ability to dig deep into the interdisciplinary issue of climate change. The Summer Institute offered the space for educators to learn deeply about something that is scientific, but is cause-driven and intersects every aspect of our lives. By teaching climate change education, we help teachers recognize that they are part of the solution.

“I would say that when I started the Institute I was beginning to be discouraged by the lack of progress we have made in the U.S. regarding climate change. After the Institute, I am much much more hopeful that we will be able to combat climate change. I feel we have a good shot at reaching the best outcome.”
—Summer Institute 2016 Attendee

Check out the interactive agenda below and click on the presentations, resources, and worksheets to see what the Summer Institute 2016 was all about.

Next Generation ClimateNext Generation Climate
Grades 6-8







Goals of Attendees



Day 1

8:30 AM Arrive and Breakfast

9:00 AM Welcome,“Why Climate Change Education?”, by Kristen Poppleton (Presentation Link)

10:30 AM Next Generation Climate Curriculum Orientation and Activities

11:30 AM Lunch

12:15 PM Lesson 1: Curriculum Session (link)

Activity 1: Interpreting Graphs, Analyzing Data

Activity 2: Weather vs. Climate

Activity 3: Indicators of the rise of global temperature


1:45 – 4:30 PM

Modeling in the Classroom, Devarati Bhattacharya and Mark Chandler (Presentation Link)

NGSS Practices in the Classroom, Doug Paulson (Presentation Link)

Discussion on Overcoming Denial, Kristen Poppleton (Presentation Link)

4:30 PM Daily Reflection

6:00 – 8:30 PM Community Energy Engagement Event (Optional), St. Paul River Centre

Day 2

7:30 AM Breakfast and Field Trip Sign-Up

9:00 AM Keynote with Dr. Benjamin Santer: Climate Science in Focus  (link)

10:00 AM Lesson 2: Curriculum Session  (link)

Activity 1: The Greenhouse Effect Game

Activity 2: Claims, Evidence, Reasoning

1:00 PM Birchwood Box Lunch


1:30 – 4:30 PM

U of M Heat Science Lab, Tracy Twine (U of M St. Paul Campus)

EcoDistrict, Jenna Totz (Downtown St. Paul)

Macalester College Sustainability Tour, Suzanne Hansen (Macalester)

5:30 – 6:30 PM Happy Hour at Kristen Poppleton’s House

Day 3

7:30 AM Breakfast

8:30 AM Lesson 3: Indicators of a Warming World Worksheet (link)

9:00 AM Keynote with Dr. Robert Jacobel: The Changing Cryosphere

10:00 AM Lesson 4: Curriculum Session (link)

Citizen Science: Engaging Students in Authentic Investigations

11:30 AM Lunch

12:30 PM  Lesson 5: Curriculum Session  (link)

Activity 1: Impact, Adaption, Mitigation, Jigsaw Read


1:45 – 4:30 PM

Disparities in STEM Education, Allison Liuzzi (Presentation Link)

But I just Don’t Have Time to Teach About Climate Change, Barry Greenwald (link forthcoming)

Context, Questions, and Complexity, Emily Mohl (Presentation Link)

4:30 PM Daily Reflection

7:30- 9:00 PM MN Stories in a Changing Climate Movie Screening, Patagonia Store

Day 4

7:30 AM Breakfast

8:45 AM Bringing Data to Life: Climate Action Projects (link)

10:30 AM Teacher Panel: COP 21 Paris 2015, Climate Change Education in Action (Presentation Link)

11:30 AM Lunch

12:15 PM Workshop Introduction


12:30 – 2:30 PM

Stormwater Management as a Climate Change Solution, Freshwater Society (Presentation Link)

Energy Efficiency in Schools, Jothsna Harris (link)

Zero Waste as a Climate Change Solution, Eureka Recycling

Transforming Central, Julie Marckel, Lisa Heyman & Team

Sending Stormwater to Detention, Nate Zwonitzer (Link)

Fundraising & Grantwriting, Lisa Heyman (Link)

Student-Teacher Engagement & Fundraising, Lisa Heyman (Link)

Roots & Shoots with Transforming Central, Mara (Link)

Transforming Central & Place-Based Education, Ryan Backman (Link)

2:30 PM Closing and Evaluation (Presentation Link)

3:00 PM Departure

Resource table

Download a list of useful resources.