From 2019-21, I co-created and taught "The Planet We Live On," an interdisciplinary class at Different Directions Community Center in Manhattan. Our goal was to empower students to tackle climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss.

Research shows that fear-based climate education can lead to despair and denial. This especially true if students don't understand that the worst effects can still be averted, that adults are working hard to solve the problem, and that their own actions can make a difference. Fear and anxiety are also known to interfere with memory, make thinking more rigid, and interfere with creative problem solving.

To avoid these outcomes, we combined science-focused lessons on human ecology with conversations about local government and activism. Students read about young activists and scientists like Greta Thunberg and William Kamkwamba. They researched climate change solutions, wrote to local politicians, and created campaigns to encourage their families and classmates to reduce their carbon footprint.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we adapted this class for online learning and taught it simultaneously to online and in-person students.

Curriculum map: The Planet We Live On

Sorting Cards: Weather and the Water Cycle

(Created to help 4th grade students in a 12:1 setting make connections between weather and the water cycle.)