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Why teach climate change?

Over the next three weeks you will devise a plan to guide your students through an investigation into a climate problem in their local area.
TOM LYONS: Welcome to teaching climate change, developed by ESERO Ireland and ESERO UK, the ESA European Space Education Resources Office. I’m Tom Lyons, STEM Enrichment Lead at STEM Learning.
STEPHANIE O’NEILL: I’m Stephanie O’Neill, the manager of ESERO Ireland, and I work at Science Foundation Ireland. Climate change is arguably the most important issue facing civilization at this time. The evidence for enhanced global warming and environmental degradation due to human activity is well-established. We are beginning to see the effects of climate change. But there are actions that we can take individually and at local and national levels to slow and mitigate these changes. The first step towards taking these changes is to understand and educate about the mechanisms of climate change and to get involved in projects, where students can use real data to investigate changes from local to global levels.
This course will enable you to give your students a grounding in the science of climate change and enable them to become climate detectives and agents for change themselves.
TOM LYONS: Our understanding of climate change has been revolutionised by the advent of satellite technology. And the key part of this course will include activities from the European Space Agency and their Climate Detectives project, which enables students to use Earth observation data to carry out their own investigations and share these with other students across Europe.
STEPHANIE O’NEILL: During the next three weeks, you will consider where climate change fits in the curriculum. You’ll look at how evidence of the effects of climate change is gathered by ground-based and satellite observations. And you will see how the European Space Agency has supported the teaching of climate change with its Climate Detectives project. In the final week, we’ll consider our actions to tackle climate change.

Welcome to Teaching Climate Change. This is a professional development course for teachers of students aged 11-14 years, developed by ESERO Ireland and ESERO UK in partnership with STEM Learning.

Climate change is arguably the most important issue facing civilisation at this time. By understanding and educating about the mechanisms for climate change, you can empower students to be agents for change themselves.

Over the next three weeks you will develop your own subject knowledge of climate change, discover how climate scientists use data from space and ground observation, and explore the ways we can mitigate climate change.

As you move through the course, you will build a plan to direct and support students to devise and implement a meaningful investigation of a climate problem. Your plan will be based on the ESA Climate Detectives project, which is open to schools based in the European Union. However, the approaches described in this course will be suitable for any teacher wishing to support their students in independent climate change research.

Developing your plan

Week 1: Identifying a climate problem

You will plan to establish a baseline of student knowledge about climate change, identify any misconceptions they may have and plan how to teach the scientific concepts. You will also develop your approach to supporting students to identify a climate problem to investigate and write a manageable research question.

Week 2: Investigating the climate problem

You will explore a range of data collection activities, including ground observations and the use of real satellite data which students can draw upon to measure the effects of climate change.

Week 3: Communicating the findings

The final week covers strategies to develop students’ a data analysis and presentation skills, as well as considering how you could raise awareness of STEM careers during the project.

Course Support

This course is presented by Stephanie O’Neill, manager of ESERO Ireland and Tom Lyons manager of ESERO UK and STEM Enrichment at STEM Learning. The course has been co-authored by Catherine Daly and Cliff Porter. Catherine, Stephanie and Tom will be supporting the course discussions between 6 to 26 September 2021.


Throughout the course we have included resources from the European Space Agency (with kind permission) and resources from the STEM Learning E-Library. Due to licensing reasons, some videos are not available to download from this course, however full versions of ESA videos are linked at the bottom of the relevant step.

Tip: You may wish to open resources in a new tab or window, so that you don’t lose your place on the course. Right click on links (or press and hold on links on mobile devices) which will allow you to choose to open them in new tabs.


For our first discussion, we would like you to say hello and introduce yourself, where you teach and what age your students are. Then, share your answer to:
Why teach climate change?
Post your response in the comments below.

Tip: When you complete a step on the course, click ‘Mark as Complete’ at the bottom right. This helps you keep track of your progress.

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Teaching Climate Change

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