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Geeky Parent Guide: Helping Kids to Understand Climate Change Initiatives

As we start a new year, despite our renewal of hope in believing for better things to come, many things stay the same in terms of the challenges that parents and kids face with education in the face of the pandemic. Whether your kids are being homeschooled like mine or participating in virtual or in-person learning, education has taken a whole other meaning when it comes to the virtual wonder that is the internet. As a major space geek who loves Star Trek: The Next Generation, I’m constantly looking into what NASA is doing to further online educational opportunities for my kids, many of which focus on long-term answers to climate change.

How many times can a parent highlight NASA’s efforts? Apparently, a lot! There are many projects that revolve around the betterment of humans and planet Earth. Experiments on the International Space Station have involved growing food in a microgravity environment, which will help astronauts during long-term space travel. There are tests completed to better understand the human body. There are even those which focus on space weather to help protect astronauts from radiation from the sun.

But, what about weather on Earth? Well, it turns out NASA works on that, too, and when teaching my own kids at home, it’s important to give them a bigger perspective of things when discussing Earth Science at home. Climate study helps us to understand and predict what might happen in the future. If the planet keeps warming up, naturally, water will warm and ice will begin to melt in our Artic regions. When this happens, water levels rise with the melted ice and water expands naturally as it gets warmer.

One way to communicate about climate change with my kids is to learn about animals and how they adapt to changes. Adaptation is a part of life, but some animals’ migration based on perceived seasonal changes might disrupt their natural course. Based on a 28-year study of data, eagles started migrating a half-day each year, which accounts for a two-week change. This change “was more pronounced for adult eagles than juveniles, suggesting that the juveniles may be missing out on the mating season or the adults may be reaching their summering grounds before their food sources.”

Yes, some animals are adapting better than others, but without understanding the changes that are happening and will continue to happen, life on Earth will be dramatically different in the years to come. Having our kids understand the damages that come with pollution and the overall effect humans have on the planet is a monumental thing for children to learn. Despite their ages (6 and 8), my kids understand that trash getting into the water can harm animals, so introducing such a global concern as climate change might be the best thing I can do. So, letting them learn more about what NASA is doing is a very good thing.

Sentinel 6 31e

What’s another fun way for kids to learn? Rockets! A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was launched in November of last year which carried a joint U.S.-European satellite, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich. It “aims to collect the most accurate data yet on sea level and how it changes over time.” Data has already been collected for the past 30 years, but NASA looks to improve their depth of knowledge. This new satellite, along with another satellite scheduled to launch in 2025, “will measure sea level down to the centimeter for more than 90% of the world’s oceans.”

One thing that astounded my kids is when they learned how grand of a scale water is for our planet. When they learned in the fall that about only 30% of Earth is the land where people live and the rest was water, their mouths dropped. “What? That’s so much water!” So, when discussing an increase in ocean levels, they also begin to understand how that will impede coastal towns. Seaside towns are also constantly susceptible to weather, so the Sentinel-6 satellite will also monitor “temperature and humidity, which will help improve weather and hurricane forecasts.”

NASA also has educational guides for different grade levels, which means it’s even easier to broach this subject with your kids, regardless of age. Among those resources, NASA Climate Kids has a variety of activities and videos to help explain this topic, including greenhouse effect and what causes sea levels to rise. It’s an astounding fact that “the ocean is about 7 to 8 inches higher now than it was a century ago.”

Imagine describing rising sea levels to your kids as a starting point to climate change, because undoubtedly their first question might just be, “Why?” or “How is that possible?” Having our kids understand the effects from a warmer planet will allow them to be forward thinking, and possibly one day have the drive and determination to do something about it.

Greta Thunberg Time Person of the Year Cover 7ce

One such person who already has that drive is someone that your kids have an opportunity to look up to. Greta Thunberg, Time’s 2019 Person of the Year, “first began skipping school in August 2018, sitting in front of Swedish Parliament to demand climate action.” In making a choice to sacrifice learning, Thunberg did something that also attempted to educate. Not every decision is crystal clear, but determination to do what’s right for the world is a wonderful shining example for everyone.

Thunberg “inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history.” Impact and positive change: That’s something kids can see and it will resonate. She started her climate strike when she was 15. My own kids, who recently talked about how long it is until they’re teenagers (I still don’t even know why it was brought up or want to think about.) will be able to see what it means to work towards a larger purpose. Seeing someone face challenges and backlash with the simplest of things: science. It’s an inspiration to many. In an age when scientific certainty is turned into a divisive tool of politics, it’s safe to say we need more Greta Thunbergs in this world.

For more information on climate and climate change, visit NASA’s page dedicated to Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. For more specific information on sea level, visit NASA’s Sea Level Change: Observations from Space. There is a lot of information available for parents to share with their kids, so pick and choose which elements to discuss with your kids and they will be eager to learn.

If your kids are learning virtually or through homeschool and Earth Science isn’t a part of their curriculum, there are many videos that could be perfect ways to let your kids have some “TV time” while presenting educational information.

We have the ability to prepare our kids for a bright future by letting them know where we are presently in the world and how things need to change to build a better tomorrow. In this case, studying climate change is one of those ways. Subsequently, the many fields of study (STEM) that are involved in helping to reverse such a global problem might also be a pathway they have an interest in.

Have you or your family discussed the effects of climate change or rising sea levels? Are your kids equally enthusiastic about learning when it involves animals and rockets? Share with us what things excite your kids when it comes to learning. Plus, if you like this article and want to see more content just like it, don’t forget to like this page, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and share with all of your geeky friends.

Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.

Additional mind-blowing facts on climate change and sea level rise:

“Since 2006, an average of 318 gigatons of ice per year has melted from Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets, scientists calculated by comparing data from the first ICESat and ICESat-2.”

Frame of reference for gigaton: “One gigaton is enough to cover New York’s City Central Park in ice 1,000 feet deep.”

“Since 1993, four generations of satellite altimeters have measured the height of the world’s oceans and seas. Sea level has risen globally by about 4 inches (93 millimeters) and as much as 6 inches (150 millimeters) in some places.”

The Paris Agreement

“A legally binding international treaty on climate change,” the Paris Agreement has been initiated for countries to come together to help transform their society in a way that lessens their carbon footprint.

“Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.” This worldwide initiative for positive climate change relies on finding ways to reduce air pollution (i.e., Greenhouse Gas emissions), which has already brought such ideas; “low-carbon solutions and new markets” and “zero-carbon solutions.”

“By 2030, zero-carbon solutions could be competitive in sectors representing over 70% of global emissions.”

S.T. Lakata, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor



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