Downers Grove North hosts Climate of Hope conference, helping empower science teachers in classroom

Conference featured nearly 2000-year-old ice core from Greenland

ByTracy Butler and Blanca Rios WLS logo
Wednesday, March 6, 2024
Conference helps teachers take 'gloom and doom' out of climate change
The first-ever Climate of Hope conference helped arm science teachers with tools and lessons on how to take the emotion and politics out of climate change.

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (WLS) -- Glaciers are melting, coral reefs are disappearing, and storms are becoming more intense.

"Sometimes climate change seems gloom and doom and we don't want that to be the case because oftentimes people just shut down," said Jeff Grant, a science teacher at Downers Grove High School.

That gloom and doom makes it hard to be a science teacher these days. But on Friday they got a little bit of hope at the first-ever Climate of Hope conference.

Held at Downers Grove North High School, science educators Jeff Grant and Mike Heinz brought bright scientific minds together to arm teachers with knowledge and new hands-on classroom activities.

"We're empowering teachers to go out and teach this because it's going to be the next generation that has to solve it," said Heinz, the school's science department chair.

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"Teachers need to see the actual lessons, they need to feel the actual lessons before they're willing to try it out their own, because it takes a lot of time to incorporate something into a classroom," said Grant. "They don't want a dud, so to speak."

One of the "coolest" parts of the conference was this show-stopping ice core from an ice sheet in Greenland.

The precious cargo was shipped in from a U.S. Geological Society facility in Colorado where thousands more are stored.

"This one, according to the data that they sent to us, appears to have been laid down on the earth in 725 A.D....And so we're very lucky to have it," explained Heinz.

They were also lucky to have glaciologist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Richard Alley, who helped explain why ice cores are so important to understanding earth's history.

"In there are bubbles of old air that show how much CO2 once was in the atmosphere. There are indicators of how dusty it was. There are indicators of how many cosmic rays there were there indicators just all kinds of things," said Alley. "And you can read the history of the climate in these two-mile time machines that are coming out of the ice cores."

In addition to ice cores and climate change, the goal of the conference was to give teachers some peace of mind and to help them keep their cool when educating the next generation.

"To empower these teachers so that they feel confident and collected and ready to tackle the next day and climate change at the same time," said Grant. "We don't want them to be hot we want them to be cool, right, like climate change."

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