Climate Change Podcast Project

The 6th graders are climate change scholars, activists, and… podcasters! 
In Jackie Beutell’s humanities classroom, students examined the geologic states of the earth in the past, present, and future, focusing on the seven epochs and the Anthropocene. They analyzed the effects of climate change and how humans can both positively and negatively impact the earth. 

This interdisciplinary unit aligns with the efforts toward our Strategic Priority of Connection: Caring for Our Community and Planet. Last fall, Ms. Beutell was among Burke’s staff and faculty who attended The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education to develop new curricula through the lens of sustainability for education, which teaches students about climate change and what they and their peers can do to be more environmentally friendly. 

Cyndera Quackenbush, Director of After School and Summer Programs, kickstarted the unit with a story about her archaeologist father discovering billion-year stones. Students had a chance to select and observe a rock and then write a creative poem connecting the stone’s image to what Earth may have been like back in ancient times before humans. Next, they formed small groups to play “The Fish Game,” a simulation that invites players to “go fishing” with the object of each game being to “have as many fish as possible by the end of 10 rounds.” It is an eye-opening experience that teaches system dynamics, ecological principles, and responsible citizenship.

In addition to creative writing and thinking, the sixth graders expanded their nonfiction reading and writing skills and oral skills by making podcasts in small groups. With instructional help from Michelle Loomis, Upper School Librarian and Digital Media Specialist, and Vanessa Miller, Upper School Makery Specialist, Ms. Beutell’s class chose from a variety of topics including deforestation, fossil fuels, sea level rise, sustainable foods, plastic pollution, greenwashing, and climate activism. 

Did you know that with restaurants moving away from using plastic straws, a New York restaurant implemented a cool idea to use Twizzlers instead? How about the fact that fast fashion contributes to 10% of global warming? Sixth graders recorded podcasts describing their specific topics and what potential steps people can take to solve the climate crisis. They interviewed classmates, business owners, professors, and other professionals before editing their clips to include smooth transitions and background music. 

The collective message was clear about changing habits to create a greener world: “You are the future. Act like it.”
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