Food And Climate Change Curriculum- Outline and Lesson Plans

*Adapted with permission from Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy’s “Next Generation Climate” Curriculum; Aligned to NGSS

grade level:

  • 6-8. could be adapted for early high school grades as well.  

Statement of Motivation: It is increasingly important that we have conversations, lessons and discussion of climate change in classrooms, on farms, and across organizations that engage a K-12 student audience. As one of the most pressing challenges facing current and future generation of global citizens, climate change is a topic that can and should integrate into many disciplines- math, science, history, politics, art, etc. Farms and school gardens provide a unique opportunity to engage students in viable solutions to climate change- sequestering carbon from the atmosphere back into the soil through growing plants, adopting certain regenerative practices, promoting local food systems, and greening schoolyards. This curriculum balances indoor classroom time with outdoor gardening time, where outdoor activities are linked to topics related to climate change (carbon cycle, water conservation, renewable energy, local economy, agroecology, climate justice) that students explore in the classroom. A primary motivation is to prepare students to enter fields of study or careers where they can apply and practice climate mitigation strategies.

Driving question: What is the connection between food systems and climate change, and how can we design more climate friendly food production systems? 

Key themes: Solutions-focused, project-based/experiential, indoor and outdoor learning environments, exploring climate science through the lens of food and agriculture

Lessons At-A-Glance (Constructive Alignment)

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Curriculum Outline (6 key lessons, 1 hour each):

  1. What is climate change? What evidence do we have? [Ag connection: how does sustainable agriculture fit into the study of climate change?]

  2. What factors have caused a rise in global temperature over the past century? [Ag connection: How has agriculture played a role]

  3. What are the effects of climate change, including the rise in global temperature? [Ag connection: What do the effects mean for human communities and food production, both yours and elsewhere?]

  4. What would you need to monitor the repercussions locally? [Ag connection: how are farmers/food producers monitoring effects of climate change?]

  5. In what ways can the repercussions of climate change be minimized? [Ag connection: compost/solutions lesson, intro to student group projects]

  6. How can you design a method for monitoring and mitigating the effects of climate change? [Ag connection: in groups or as a class, design a project that would reduce or alleviate the effects of climate change using a school garden or local farm]

  7. Climate Literacy Assessment

*Note on timing: Lessons can be split in half, as they typically involve a classroom component and outdoor/garden component, depending on school schedule. They are designed to last about an hour each, for a total of 6 hours plus implementation time for student-determined projects (see Lesson 6). 

Materials:

  • Student journals- make from recycled materials

  • Projector, internet (if available for short videos)

  • Computers for students (if available, for Lesson 3)

  • School garden (or intent to create garden)