Hitchcock Center plays key role in climate change education

This letter to the editor originally appeared in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Thank you for your recent article, “A topic worth tackling,” about teachers’ struggles to teach climate change in the classroom.

As an elementary public school teacher who is also a board member of the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, I would like to add that this organization offers guidance and concrete lessons about climate change to teachers, including field trips, teacher trainings, and curricula that meet Massachusetts state standards.

At my elementary school, the Hitchcock Center helps students and teachers understand the intersections of natural science, engineering, technology and design as critical to meeting many of the environmental challenges that confront society today, such as generating renewable energy, maintaining healthy supplies of fresh water, and mitigating climate change.

Leeds School third graders examine a fallen leaf stem as naturalist and environmental educator Ted Watt of the Hitchcock Center for the Environment explains what creature likely bit through it and caused it to fall to the ground. STAFF FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

For instance, this month my students will learn how natural systems can inform human innovation as they explore the Hitchcock Center’s recently certified Living Building (23rd in the world) and its water, waste and energy systems.

They will then be presented with an increasingly common real-world problem: a shortage of water like the drought western Massachusetts experienced several years ago. After learning how a water shortage can disrupt our drinking water supply, agricultural production, and ecological health, my students will work in teams to design and build a rainwater capture and storage system to help mitigate these impacts.

They will learn about water conservation strategies in use at the Hitchcock Center: a constructed wetland, which provides on-site gray-water treatment, composting toilets, and permeable surfaces, rain gardens, and bioswales, all of which have been engineered to recharge underground water reserves.

There are many other Hitchcock Center programs for students and teachers that are developmentally appropriate and that fulfill the Massachusetts Curriculum Standards. These programs, and the standards addressed, are on the Hitchcock Center’s website at https://hitchcockcenter.org/.

Our community should be aware of the valuable school-based programs and teacher resources that the Hitchcock Center offers. Our children need fact-based, age-appropriate climate change instruction … and they are counting on us to provide it.

Gillian Andrews


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