NASA and Eco-Schools USA – Forging Climate Change Connections

This week we kicked off the inaugural NASA/Eco-Schools USA Climate Change Connections professional development institute for middle school and high school educators. 

Yesterday, I made opening remarks to this select group of science, environmental, and technology educators, welcoming them to the institute and introducing the NASA/Eco-Schools USA collaborative grant program called Climate Change Connections

Joining our team at the NASA Goddard Visitor Center are 18 teachers from Boston, Austin, Seattle, and Washington, DC, the Project Budburst lead from the Chicago Botanic Garden, and NASA’s senior education specialist, Brian Campbell. 

Some attending educators have been teaching for years; others have three to five years under their belts.  Each participant that I’m with this week brings a unique perspective to the institute, whether it be from experience, geographical location or instinct.

NWF’s Dr. Amanda Staudt gave a stirring and compelling presentation on climate change modeling, predictions, history, and impacts.  Dr. Staudt’s presentation triggered many questions from the audience; participants wanted to know more about what the scientific data tells us, and see if they could they use the presentation to show to students and school district administrators. 

Liz Soper, the associate director of Eco-Schools USA, gave a great overview of the programmatic framework and pathways to sustainability.  More than half of the participants have registered their schools to be Eco-Schools, and the others will do so before the institute is over. 

From what I have seen so far at the professional development institute, the group is eager to transform their schools and their students with the Climate Change Connections program.  Some participating schools will begin as an after-school environmental club; others will incorporate the curricula into their science or AP classes. I am in awe of this diverse group of teachers, as they have one of the hardest jobs to do – educating our youth and helping to foster and mentor the next generations of scientists and conservation stewards. 

We are working together through Wednesday of this week—stay tuned for more updates from me about the NASA/Eco-Schools USA Professional Development Institute. 

Learn more about the program at and follow us on Twitter @EcoSchoolsUSA.