Right Here Right Now: Impacts Educator Guide

Right Here Right Now: Impacts Educator Guide

Theme One: Impacts 

Begin by selecting one of the six themes below. Work through at least one activity listed in the theme with your students, then read through one of the stories and explore the ways to engage. Many activities and lessons have been chosen from the Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network(CLEAN) and include a teacher’s guide on how to best bring these lessons and activities into the classroom. For more information about CLEAN resources as well as support for teaching about climate energy, please visit the CLEAN website.  

Guide Structure: 

Each section of the guide adheres to the following format to scaffold the learning I) activities and lessons, ii) stories, and iii) ways to engage youth. By beginning the engagement with the conference content via an activity, students learn about different aspects of the theme. Stories are the second element of the educator guide. The stories strive to connect students to the people and places impacted by climate change and create empathy. Ways to engage in each theme is the focus of the final resource section of the guide. After exploring a topic and who it impacts, learning about how youth can take action will allow students to find hope, energy, and purpose while exploring topics that may feel overwhelming.

Activities and lessons

Resource Watch, World Resources Institute - https://cleanet.org/resources/57233.html  Image removed.

  • Description: Resource Watch features hundreds of data sets all in one place on the state of the planet's resources and citizens. Users can visualize challenges facing people and the planet, from climate change to poverty, water risk to state instability, air pollution to human migration. 

  • Instructional Time: Learning how to use the Resource Watch tool and investigating the data it shows will take at least one class period but could take up to three if multiple issues are explored. 

  • Grade Level: Grades six and up 

Colorado River Water Supply, The Encyclopedia of Earth- https://cleanet.org/resources/43020.html  

  • Description: This activity addresses climate change impacts that affect all states that are part of the Colorado River Basin and are dependent on its water. Students examine available data, the possible consequences of changes to various user groups, and suggest solutions to adapt to these changes.  

  • Instructional Time: Activity takes about one-two class periods and homework assignments. Computer access required. 

  • Grade Level: Grade nine and up 


Her family lost their farm in Uganda to climate change. Now she’s standing up for theImage removed. future., RHRN Conference content featuring Hilda Flavia Nakabuye

The Last Days of Isle de Jean Charles: A Louisiana tribe’s struggle to escape the rising sea, Nola.com

Jorge Figueroa: the Caribbean man working for the environment, Latino Verde

The informal settlements reshaping the world. Jota Samper TED talk on creative, sustainable solutions for thousands of informal neighborhoods across the world

Ways to Engage

Choose an action from the Ecochallenge “Building Resilience” category

Learn about resilience planning in Boulder, Colorado to consider possible actions you can take in your community

Activities and lessons

Beat the Uncertainty: Planning Climate-Resilient Cities, Tarlise Townsend, Astrid Kause,Image removed. Peg Steffen, Dinh Thai Hung, Than Ngo Duc, Vinh Nguyen Li Ai, Susan Fox, NOAA- https://cleanet.org/resources/56001.html 

  • Description: This learning activity explores the concept of resiliency. It allows students to make city planning decisions and then employs a game to test their resilience decisions against potential impacts from severe weather, climate change, and natural hazards. 

  • Instructional Time: This learning activity takes one to two 45 min class periods. Additional classroom materials needed: Flat-bottomed marbles; food containers. 

  • Grade Level: Grades six through twelve 

Exploring grid resilience as an approach to evaluating energy sources and addressing climate impacts, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill- https://cleanet.org/resources/58420.html  

  • Description: Students evaluate the energy sources used to generate electricity in their state, then consider ways in which their energy infrastructure is vulnerable to extreme weather and rising sea level. Students then consider ways that their local energy grid can be made more resilient. 

  • Instructional Time: This activity has several parts that take 15-30 minutes each for a total of 2 to 3 hours of work. 

  • Grade Level: Grades six and up 

Power for Developing Countries, Kushal Seetharam, University of Colorado; Duke University- https://cleanet.org/resources/49466.html  

  • Description: This small-group activity uses engineering concepts to design energy systems for three off-the-grid towns in Mali, Ethiopia, and Namibia. 

  • Instructional Time: Activity takes at least three 60-minute class periods. 

  • Grade Level: Grades six and up 

StoriesImage removed.

Hurricane-hit Caribbean nations can build back better, says UN development official, UN News

Storymap describing Shishmaraf and climate migration in Alaska, AKSIK

The ‘energy patriots’ bringing electricity to Indonesia’s remote villages, UN News

Ways to Engage

Choose an action from the Ecochallenge “Electricity” category

Work through the exercises listed in the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit

Create a climate op-ed piece focused on the climate challenges your community faces

Activities and lessons

2018 National Climate Assessment Resources for the Hawai'i and Pacific Islands Regions -Image removed. https://cleanet.org/clean/literacy/tools/nca_2018_hi.html#1  

  • Description: Resource focused on looking at the impact of rising temperatures, sea-level rise, and whether shifts caused by climate change on the people and ecosystems of the described region. 

  • Instructional Time: Multiple lessons from which educators can choose. The time needed will depend on the depth of engagement. 

  • Grade Level: Grades nine and up

Sea Level Rise Viewer NOAA Office for Coastal Management, NOAA- https://cleanet.org/resources/51299.html 

  • Description: This web mapping tool allows users to investigate impacts of sea level rise. Data is included from across the United States at different scales. Various timelines and sea level rise projections can be explored. 

  • Instructional Time: Learning and using this tool should take one class period. 

  • Grade Level: Grades six and up 

Our Acidifying Ocean, Virtual Urchin, Stanford University- https://cleanet.org/resources/43513.html 

  • Description: This 3-part interactive and virtual lab activity examines the life cycle of the sea urchin, and how the increasing acidity of the ocean affects their larval development. 

  • Instructional Time: Suggested lessons take about three to four 45-minute classroom periods. 

  • Grade Level: Grades nine through twelve 

StoriesImage removed.

Climate change isn't a distant threat -- it's our reality, TED talk from RHRN panelist Selina Neirok Leem

Climate change in Kiribati and sea-level rise impacts, Storymapas

First Person: Torres Strait Islanders fight the loss of their ancestral home, UN News 

Ways to Engage

Choose an action from the Ecochallenge “Coastal, Ocean, and Engineered Sinks” category

Explore Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute’s suggestions for “Adaptation strategies for sea-level rise.” While this resource is coastal-specific, the strategies described can be supported by communities everywhere

Activities and lessons

Student Exploration of the Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the UnitedImage removed. States, Dana Brown Haine, Stefani Dawn, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences-  https://cleanet.org/resources/56883.html  

  • Description: This module follows the 5E instructional model to promote student discovery and learning about the complex interactions between climate change, the environment and human health. Students describe the impacts of changing climatic conditions on human health with emphasis on vulnerable populations and apply systems thinking to create a visual model of various health implications arising from climate change. 

  • Instructional Time: This learning activity takes two to three 45-minute class periods. 

  • Grade Level: Grades nine through twelve 

Climate Change and Risks of New Pandemics, TROP ICSU- https://cleanet.org/resources/58459.html  

  • Description: Through this lesson plan your students will learn that human induced climate change causes biodiversity disturbances and could be responsible for the increased risk of animal virus spillover into human populations. Thus, the use of this lesson plan allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in Biological and Environmental Sciences. The lab allows students to explore the impact of climate change on an organism of their choice by doing a diachronic analysis of data from Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). 

  • Instructional Time: This activity takes approximately 2 hours. 

  • Grade Level: College-level lesson 

Analyzing the Urban Heat Island Effect, City of New York- https://cleanet.org/resources/58419.html  

  • Description: This activity covers the causes, effects, and mitigation of urban heat in New York City. Students use data sets, graphs, maps and images to create their own plan for mitigation in their area. Robust satellite images, city data, tables, maps, and graphs are included in the resource for students to explore.

  • Instructional Time: This activity can take one or more class periods. 

  • Grade Level: Grades six and up 

StoriesImage removed.

The Human Element, James Balog’s movie focused on the human impacts of climate change in the United States (covers air quality, fire, floods, and other impacts on humans)

Pakistan’s ‘climate carnage beyond imagination’, UN chief tells General Assembly, UN News

To prevent future death and destruction, Yeb Saño is confronting the human rights violations that fuel climate change, via RHRN Summit content 

Ways to Engage

Choose an action from the Ecochallenge “Health and Education” category

Commit to planting trees in order to mitigate urban heat islands using the “Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies" published by the Environmental Protection Agency

Start a campaign to help aid victims of climate tragedies (here is an example from students at Rice University)-

Activities and lessons

Inland Fish and Warming Waters, Massachusetts Audubon, Plum Island Ecosystems LTERImage removed. - https://cleanet.org/resources/46217.html  

  • Description: This activity relates water temperature to fishery health within inland freshwater watersheds as a way to explore how environmental factors of an ecosystem affect the organisms that use those ecosystems as important habitat. 

  • Instructional Time: Activity takes about one to two hours. 

  • Grade Level: Grade levels three through twelve 

Why fly south? How climate change alters the phenology of plants and animals, Liz Schultheis, Dustin Kincaid, Michigan State University; Kellogg Biological Station- https://cleanet.org/resources/45142.html  

  • Description: This activity introduces students to plotting and analyzing phenology data. Students use 30 years of data that shows the date of the first lilac bloom and the number of days of ice cover of nearby Gull Lake.  

  • Instructional Time: This activity could be completed in two half-hour discussion periods with graphs being completed at home or in class. 

  • Grade Level: Grades six and up 

Climate Change and Arctic Ecosystems, Project Activities for Conceptualizing Climate and Climate Change, Purdue University https://cleanet.org/resources/41898.html  

  • Description: In this activity, students learn about how climate change is affecting the Arctic ecosystem and then investigate how this change is impacting polar bear populations. Students analyze maps of Arctic sea ice, temperature graphs, and polar bear population data to answer questions about the impact of climate change on the Arctic ecosystem. 

  • Instructional Time: Activity will take about two 45-minute class periods. 

  • Grade Level: Grades six through twelve 

StoriesImage removed.

Climate change hits disabled and Indigenous communities hard. Kera Sherwood-O’Regan wants their voices heard, via RHRN summit content-

'The Right to Be Cold': Sheila Watt-Cloutier in conversation, British Museum Events

Julia Parrish: Leadership, citizen scientists and dead sea birds, University of Washington

Ways to Engage

Join COASST- “The Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) is a citizen science project housed at the University of Washington and focused on the beach environment of the northeast Pacific. Since our beginning, over 4,500 participants on more than 450 beaches spanning four states have contributed directly to monitoring their local marine resources and ecosystem health.”

Choose an action from the Ecochallenge “Land Sinks” category

Activities and lessons

Drought: Identifying Impacts and Evaluating Solutions PBS, WGBH Educational FoundationImage removed. https://cleanet.org/resources/57236.html 

  • Description: In this set of activities, students learn about impacts of drought through news videos of communities facing serious water shortages, analyze drought data and models, and research and evaluate potential solutions. This lesson works well as a component within a larger unit on climate change, its impacts, and ways to address the resulting issues.  

  • Instructional Time: This learning activity takes four 45-minute class periods. 

  • Grade Level: Grades six and up 

Food Sustainability and Security, Practical Action- https://cleanet.org/resources/58451.html 

  • Description: This activity has students analyze the lifecycle of food in their homes. 

  • Instructional Time: This activity takes approximately 60 minutes 

  • Grade Level: Grades three through twelve 

Predicting the Effects of Climate Change on Soil Loss, S. Fortner, M. Murphy, H. Scherer, INTEGRATE Project, SERC, Carleton College- https://cleanet.org/resources/46250.html 

  • Description: In this activity, students investigate soil erosion and how a changing climate could influence erosion rates in agricultural areas. This activity is part of a larger InTeGrate module called Growing Concern. 

  • Instructional Time: Activity takes one 50-minute class plus 2 homework assignments. 

  • Grade Level: Grades nine and up 


On the Run: Voluntary and Forced Climate Migration, Climate one podcastImage removed.

The future of the food ecosystem -- and the power of your plate, TED talk by Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli

Chef Dan Barber On How Delicious Food Can Help Solve The Global Food Crisis, Huffpost

Ways to Engage

Find and volunteer with a local food rescue organization. Boulder Food Rescue in Boulder Colorado

Choose an action from the Ecochallenge “Food, agriculture, and land use” category

Learn about and engage with Community Supported Agriculture. Find out what’s going on near you through the USDA CSA directory

Contact CEEE

Phone: 303-492-5670
Fax: 303-735-3644

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Boulder, CO 80309-0449

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