Partnerships between climate researchers and secondary school teachers
Carbon science researchers and secondary school teachers invite young people to learn about local and global impacts of climate change, explore scientific research on the topic and act locally to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Join us in a great scientific adventure, share our fascination for the planet and help to find solutions for the future!
CarboSchools links researchers from several leading carbon science laboratories in Europe with secondary schools. In these partnerships, young Europeans conduct experiments on the impact of greenhouse gases and learn about climate research and the reduction of emissions. Scientists and teachers co-operate over several months to give young people practical experience of research through true investigations and interactions with real scientists. The pupils also have the opportunity to inform the wider community about climate change by producing a final output of articles, exhibitions, conferences etc.
Nine research institutes in seven countries are exploring how they can best motivate and support such partnerships at the regional level across a wide variety of contexts, topics and age-groups. European co-operation makes it possible to compare results, learn from each other and develop replicable good practice. Pupils can gain European experience by getting involved in the Europe-wide "schoolCO2web" project. In order to assess the educational impact of the CarboSchools project, an in-depth evaluation of attitudes, beliefs and skills will be carried out.
Started in 2004 by CarboEurope and CARBOOCEAN, two major research projects on the carbon cycle, CarboSchools is currently funded until 2010 by the Science in Society programme of the EU with a target of ca. 100 schools directly involved. Furthermore, in 2008-2011, EPOCA, a new EU research project on ocean acidification, is also joining forces with CarboSchools. We hope that students will become fascinated and empowered by searching for solutions to "the biggest uncontrolled scientific experiment in human history" and that they will experience a true European dimension. We hope to make science learning more engaging and challenging for young people as future workers, consumers and citizens.
- Max Planck Institut fuer Biogeochemie (MPI-BGC), Jena, Germany (coordinator)
- Pädagogische Hochschule Heidelberg, Germany (TSP-project / Comenius)
One of the research topics of the Climate Research Laboratory in Science Park in Barcelona (LRC-PCB; http://www.lrclima.net/) is carbon dynamics, going from the local to the global scale, passing by the regional one (NE Iberian Peninsula). Precise and accurate atmospheric CO2 measurements are obtained in ground remote sites, in tall towers and in airborne platforms. LRC-PCB has also the objective of approaching its research to the society.
The education goal of Climate Research Laboratory is to become an International Open Center for educational purposes on Climate Research and Global Change on both formal and non-formal education.
In CarboSchools+, LRC-PCB is closely working with Fundació Escoles Tr@ms, an association of schools concerned with science teaching in their classes, trying to implement Carbon Cycle and Global Change disciplines in their science curricula. A site of CO2-Schoolweb European network is going to be established as a focal point to meet scientist, teachers and students together. Moreover, the Natural Sciences Section of the Mataró Museum (http://www.scn-mm.cat/) is going to hold another CO2 measurement site. It is going to be a focal point of non-formal discussions about the Global Change issues, always with the concurrence of scientist involved in this research field. An exhibition about the CarboSchools+ project and the Science of Carbon Cycle and Global Change will provide a context for the CO2 measurements obtained in the Mataró city center.
LRC-PCB is looking for collaboration with more teachers and schools, and it is having success. By now, teachers associated with the “Seminari Permanent de Ciències Naturals”, some of them participants in the last EGU GIFT meeting in Vienna, are interested in CS+. Currently, LRC-PCB meets them to develop activities where scientist-teachers-students learn to make science together!
In 2004, scientists of the Centre for Isotope Research (CIO) and the Department of Education (IDO) of University of Groningen started a cooperation with teachers from three secondary schools to build a SchoolCO2web. This is a network of schools with equipment on their roofs to measure atmospheric CO2 and weather variables. All the data are available online for pupils and teachers to use within their projects.
In Groningen, we have a network of teachers who regularly come together on the university to design new student projects for the science subjects in cooperation with scientists. Within this network we formed a group of people who work on the schoolCO2web and the carbon cycle. Last year they worked on a module for a new science subject: Nature, Life and Technology. Moreover, they came up with different ideas for “profile projects”. These are projects for the higher grades in which pupils design and carry out their own research. The teachers aim to guide pupils towards projects focused on atmospheric measurements, plant respiration in a closed box and the carbon footprint. Pupils have the possibilities to do a part of their project on the university.
Within the CarboSchools project, we will cooperate with our project partners in order to expand the SchoolCO2web to a European scale. We believe that the enrichment of this network will not only create a valuable resource for student projects and even scientific research. It is also a way to create a community in which European pupils, teachers and scientists will cooperate together on expanding knowledge on climate change.
Another important goal in CarboSchools is to evaluate how pupils experience working on projects about climate science. Does their attitude towards climate change and science change after doing these projects? To answer these questions, postdoc Sibel Telli will design evaluation tools to investigate the impact of our efforts.
The CarboSchools projects in the UK (primarily but not exclusively in Norwich) will be organised in the style of traditional TSN partnerships. TSN is a local science education charity that has partnered teachers with scientists since 1994 offering support to those teachers who don’t feel confident in particular topics or those who want to update their own scientific knowledge or enrich the learning experience of their pupils, showing scientists to be real everyday people and challenging the negative images of science and scientists (website).
In the context of CarboSchools, we will use all our experience to facilitate links between local secondary schools and local carbon scientists (from the highly regarded University of East Anglia’s School of Environmental Science (UEA), website of UEA) so that the projects they undertake have Carbon science at their core. They will be planned jointly by teacher and scientist.
TSN will also be contributing partner schools to CO2-web.
More details of all these projects can be found at
Should you be based in the UK and wish to take part please contact Dr. Phil Smith, TSN Coordinator (phil.smithALTbbsrc.ac.uk). Through our involvement with Researchers in Residence we can facilitate links between researchers and schools across the UK (website of "Researchers in residence")
Participation in a CarboSchools Aquitaine project offers the opportunity for secondary school pupils to explore the different parts of the biogeochemical carbon cycle along side scientists from two leading research units: EPHYSE (INRA) and EPOC (UMR CNRS Bordeaux University 1) based near Bordeaux.|
EPHYSE carries out research on continental ecosystems such as agricultural systems or forests, while EPOC conducts fundamental international research in the domains of littoral oceanography, palaeoclimatology, and environments of the continent-ocean interface.
A successful “Pioneer” Project: School Year 2007/08
This was a collaboration between the secondary school "Lycée Max Linder" in Libourne and the EPHYSE research unit, involving a class of thirty-four 16 year-old pupils and six teachers from a wide range of disciplines spanning the sciences and languages, and including Social, Civic and Law Education and economics. Within each discipline, pupils explored and worked on different aspects of climate change.
For francophones, you can learn more about this fantastic project by visiting Lycée Max Linder's CarboSchools web page
Visit our regional website to find out more about these projects
We are also participating in the SchoolCO2web project. Visit the SchoolCO2web page to compare CO2 emissions and climate at Max Linder school in Libourne with other schools in Europe.
In the area near Paris the laboratory working with CarboSchools+ is the LSCE (Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement). It is a part of the IPSL (Institut Pierre Simon Laplace), a network of 6 laboratories in "Île-de-France Region" working within environmental science. Thanks to IPSL, researches of all topics about Climate may co-operate (ocean, biosphere, biodiversity, modelling…).
During the school year 2007-2008, activities with 10 secondary schools took place with the same approach, but with the GEOMon project and the IPSL. This year, works on models and on data about the carbon cycle were more developed.
At the end of each scholar year, students came to present their results in front of their colleagues and a jury. The jury rewarded best works with prices of 100 or 200 Euros.
Some projects are also in place with individual schools: from 6 to 10.
Website (in French)
The scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC) investigate global biogeochemical cycles and their interaction with the climate system. The institute combines strong observational and process-based studies (soil carbon, plant community structure, nutrition and growth, vegetation-atmosphere fluxes, convective boundary layer) with global scale modelling (e.g. vegetation dynamics, global carbon cycle, aerosol modelling). |
Under the framework of the CarboSchools project we are beginning to establish links with regional schools to offer students practical insights into earth system and climate change research.
MPI-BGC will be partner in the CO2-web.
If you are interested in a cooperation or would like to know more about our activities please consult our webpage.
Since 2003, scientists of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Kiel (IFM-GEOMAR) and teachers from 10 secondary schools in Kiel and surroundings have been cooperating in the project NaT-Working "Marine Research" (http://nat-meer.ifm-geomar.de). To foster interest in sciences, school students at pre-university level are given the opportunity to work together with scientists on specific aspects of ocean research. The topics span the whole range of the institute's activities. The CarboSchools project in Kiel adds a new component to this existing framework: the concept of climate change and its impact on the ocean are introduced to students between 10 and 14 years using experiments developed jointly by teachers and project scientists.
Activity in southern Italy, Campania region, Benevento province
Institute of BioMeteorology (IBiMet), National Research Council (CNR) - Italy
|The Norwegian branch of CarboSchools is mainly concerned about marine topics, like chemical, physical, and to a certain extent biological oceanography, and our field area is the numerous fjords in the vicinity of Bergen. In 2006 scientists from the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research and the Geophysical Institute at University of Bergen started collaboration with students (16-19 years old) and teachers from Bergen Katedralskole, and over the years the students/teachers have participated on several one-day cruises during Spring and Fall. Two additional schools; Bjørgvin videregående skole and Danielsen videregående skole, joined the collaboration in 2008, and others are welcome.
So; how and why do temperature, oxygen, and inorganic carbon vary throughout the water column, which plankton species are abundant in the areas at different times, which species are living at the bottom of a shallow fjord compared to a deep fjord, are the fjords sink or source areas for atmospheric carbon dioxide, and how does ocean acidification affect marine life? These questions require hypothesis, data sampling, careful laboratory analysis, data processing, writing reports, and presenting the results – and this is similar to how the scientists work. So by being involved in this collaboration the students not only learn about marine chemistry/ physics/biology in relation to climate change, they also learn the scientific way of thinking and working.
Additional aspects of these cruises are of course the pre-phase of planning and preparing, in addition to safety and instruments on board the research vessel.
The Group of Application of Stable Isotopes (GASI) is part of Mass Spectrometry, Chromatography and Applied Physics Department from National Institute for Research and Development of Isotopic and Molecular Technologies, Cluj Napoca, Romania (http://www.itim-cj.ro).|
The current research topics in our group, such as: environmental studies using stable isotopes, global carbon cycle, dynamic exchanges of the CO2 between biosphere and atmosphere, role of the terrestrial ecosystems in the global carbon cycle and the role of the terrestrial ecosystems as carbon source/sink, stable isotopes at the ecosystem level, identify and quantify the sources of atmospheric trace gases (CO2, CH4, N2O), stable isotopes as indicators of the environmental pollution, fit very well with the Carboschools+ concepts and ideas.
The scientific knowledge, the international experience of the team members, the important teaching expertise, and the large proportion of women in the team are our strong reasons to join the Carboschools+ projects. It is our interest to initiate this type of activity in Romania and to promote science outside the scientific environment through direct exchange with students and teachers based on human contact.
At this moment our team has already established contacts with two schools: National College “Emil Racovita” in Cluj-Napoca and the Secondary School in Somesul Rece (Cluj district). Recent discussions with teachers from the National College “David Prodan” in Cugir, Alba district, have shown their real interest to join these common projects. Both pupils and teachers are very interested in starting new activities related to climate change, as expressed during their visits in our group/institute last year.
The receptivity and interest of the younger pupils (age of 12-18) is especially high and there will be a great challenge for us and, in the same time, a strong motivation to find the right tools/methods to communicate our scientific issues at their level of understanding. There is a mutual interest for both, pupils and teachers on one hand, and scientists, on the other hand, to establish a direct contact and to start activities from which we all will have a lot to learn. It is important to notice that we have given assistance to High School Emil Racovita in Cluj Napoca to elaborate and to submit a proposal to the Ministry of Education in Romania to ask for funding in order to implement new activities in their school related to environment and climate change. It is our interest not only to inform them about our real work, what a scientific career means or how important the climate change issue is, but to let them live this experience, let them know our daily activity. These young pupils might join later the institution as university students (in performing their Licence/Master Diploma) and/or start a scientific career in our institute. It is important to add that during the last two decades, every year several students from the Faculty of Physics (Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca) have done their diploma thesis under the direct supervision of our group leader.
Coordinated by the University of Education Heidelberg under the title “Teacher-Scientist Partnerships (TSP)- a tool for professional development”, this Comenius project investigates more in depth the pedagogical patterns of partnership projects and develop on this basis a series of teacher training modules to respond to the training needs that teachers face when joining such projects. Among the main immediate users of these modules will be the regional CarboSchools+ projects. The modules will be delivered in the autumn of 2009 (at the end of the TSP project).