Knowledge encourages active involvement. This is the principle behind the MARUM school project “Climate – I’m changing!”. Since 2020, the project has been working with four pilot schools in Bremen and Bremerhaven to integrate action-oriented climate education into everyday school life. This approach encourages children and young people to play an active role in developing their skills and activity for the future.
“Every day, and in various aspects of our everyday lives, we are presented with opportunities to make decisions either for or against climate-protective and sustainable actions. These opportunities are diverse, and they differ individually. With the teaching modules of ‘Climate – I'm changing!’ we would like to sensitize students to the challenges of the climate crisis while empowering them in their confidence to develop climate-protection ideas of their own, and to incorporate these into their everyday lives,” says Dr. Sylvia Stegmann, coordinator of the “Climate – I’m changing!” project. This framework of intimate participation gives students an opportunity to test themselves in shaping the future for the environment and society, “…and thus to realize that collaborative climate action is multi-faceted and can even be fun!”
In cooperation with four high schools from the state of Bremen, the MARUM project team has developed and tested courses and teaching materials. The courses were directly integrated into the classes of the pilot schools over a period of two school years. Through experiments in the MARUM UNISchool Laboratory, the students investigated the fundamental impacts of anthropogenic climate change on the climate system and on the environment. The "Climate Course" was integrated into the lessons of the 7th-grade students, and explored the regional and global consequences of climate change. With the slogan "my actions matter!", students from the 9th and 10th grades developed and presented their own ideas for climate protection and sustainable action in a project course that lasted several weeks. Creativity and building skills were required for students to design their own visions for building and living in the climate of the future, and to implement their ideas in the construction of a model "sustainability house."
With the experience gained through practice, the courses and all the materials are undergoing constant further didactic development. This requires the interaction between teachers and scientists, which is an essential component of the project. The pilot schools involved are the Neue Oberschule Gröpelingen, the Oberschule an der Egge (Bremen Blumenthal), the Schule am Leher Markt in Bremerhaven, and the Wilhelm-Olbers-Oberschule (Bremen Hemelingen).
In terms of content, the teaching materials on climate action cover a range of areas that affect young people's everyday lives, including industry, consumption and nutrition, housing and energy, and urban planning. Approaches for achieving climate-protection goals are based on the principles of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and are intended to empower and motivate students to independent action. The courses are tailored to the Bremen educational curriculum and are designed to be adaptable, so that they can be used in other schools in the future.
Network for Exchange
The teaching materials for action-oriented climate education are only one of the three building blocks that make up the strategy behind “Climate – I’m changing!”. Two other equally important components are the science-based and topic-related support for teachers, and the development and organization of a network for the interaction of all participants in the project.
“For the long term we want to offer an open network for climate education in the State of Bremen, in which all of the Bremen schools can participate,” Stegmann emphasizes. Schools can presently take part in individual modules of the project in the MARUM UNISchool Laboratory at the University of Bremen. “Thanks to the great dedication of all the teachers involved in the pilot schools, the courses and materials will become freely available after their final revision. We hope that they will reach and inspire many schools, teachers and students. Protecting the climate, and with it our environment and society, can only be successful if we all take part.”
The Senator’s Office for Science and Ports provided financial support for the project during the pilot phase. “With the school project 'Climate – I'm changing!' MARUM illustrates how internationally respected research at the University of Bremen on one of the most important topics of our time can be converted into solution-oriented applied knowledge in school education. The project also motivates students to get excited about pursuing excellence in science. This is important because our state, with its strong scientific institutions, will continue to need good young researchers in the future," asserts the Senator for Science, Dr. Claudia Schilling.
“Project Enhances Teaching”
“It is obvious that we need to protect our climate. But what does that mean in practical terms? Especially in dealing with this multifaceted range of issues, it is important for students to be able to approach questions in creative, inventive, and inquiring ways. That is exactly what this project at MARUM achieves. The students take on the challenges here, and find ways to actively protect the climate,” says Senator for Education Sascha Aulepp. “The project has greatly enhanced teaching at four schools in Bremen and Bremerhaven in the past three years! I would also like to thank the teachers for their efforts, which made the pilot project a success, and their willingness to network among the schools in the project.”
With the climate education modules and pilot schools, MARUM is an extracurricular education partner of the ESD state initiative of the Senator for Children and Education for the Federal State of Bremen, with the aim of firmly embedding Education for Sustainable Development and climate education in teacher education within the state of Bremen.
“Climate – I’m changing!”: https://www.marum.de/Entdecken/Klima-ich-wandle-mich-2.html (in German only)
Contact and school visits / Visits to MARUM UNISchool Laboratory:
Dr. Sylvia Stegmann
Project Coordinator “Climate – I’m changing!”
MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-65538
Email: sstegmannprotect me ?!marumprotect me ?!.de