Boulder Valley School District

“It's our future” : Passion around climate change fuels learning for BVSD students

climate strike
Carolyn Nohe

“I have a longing to do something. But I feel like I can't,” explained  BVSD student Meagan Hoff. “I felt like this was a way for me to support what I believe.” 

The 7th grader at Platt Middle School was disappointed that her mom wouldn’t take her to the Climate Strike in Denver last month, so she decided to take matters into her own hands.

“I think the hardest part of being aware of climate change and wanting to stop it is that we can't do much because we need adults to take us to places we need,” Meagan said. When I found out that we could do a climate strike at school,  I started spreading the word.” A number of students at Platt Middle School in Boulder joined other young people across the district and the globe to make a statement about what they feel is an urgent need to address climate change. 

“I think especially in middle school. They're not jaded. They don't feel like it's time to give up yet. Somehow we need to keep that going,” said Platt teacher John Mattson.

In the classroom, BVSD teachers aim to ignite a love of learning in students. Real-world and hands-on experiences that bring content to life is also one of the key focuses of the new BVSD Strategic Plan. BVSD also has clear policies around the teaching of controversial issues. The policy highlights the educational value of teaching around these issues, including critical thinking, decision-making, and promoting student involvement, all of which are important post-graduate skills.

In Mattson’s class, students explore the Boulder Reservoir and Boulder Creek trail to examine biodiversity and ecosystems. 

“Whenever you can have a real-world experience, and then connect it to really rigorous content, that's got to be key,” said Mattson.

At Centennial Middle School in North Boulder, 7th graders got to hear from local climate scientist, and video producer, Dr. Ryan Vachon, who inspired them to take action.

“My generation is the backup so we need to take action, young people especially,” said 7th grade Centennial student, Hazel Servetar. 

Learning about climate change in the classroom has sparked students to do their own research in their personal time. Taisia Taraschuk, a 7th grader at Platt Middle School who helped organize the school’s climate strike, is one of those students.

“I started hearing about Greta Thunberg. She's so young, and I felt so empowered while listening to her talk to Congress and doing a TED talk. I just thought that was so amazing and I wanted to be like her,” Taraschuk said.

Both Vachon and Mattson say they have noticed students’ interest in climate science increasing over the past few years. Mattson says he has many students emailing him with questions and discussing the topic during and after class.

“It matters so much in their lives and their future that it's hard to ignore,” says Vachon.

While students have taken action to change their behaviors to do their small part in tackling climate change, they know it will take bigger changes to make the most impact.

“We need to change the system, not the climate,” says Hoff. “ We're doing everything we can now, but if we could change the system, then that would change everything.”



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