Westfield science teachers Kristi Houghtaling from Edison Intermediate School and Andrew Bausch from Roosevelt Intermediate School were among 3 teachers in New Jersey selected to attend a NASA funded competitive course about the science of climate change. The course, which was administered through the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and a grant from NASA, concluded on February 2. The learning experience marked the completion of a combination on-line and on-site course that included three weeks of preparation requiring extensive reading and research.
Professors from Columbia University, including a former NASA Scientist, utilized NASA software to make simulations to project what the earth will look like in 100 – 200 years. The online reading and discussion focused on how climate systems work, what facts cause climate to change, how these factors interact and how climate has changed in the past. The on-site segment of the course included the presentation by scientists of climate models and exploration of data that scientists use to predict future climate change.
Mr. Bausch, who teaches 7th graders, and Ms. Houghtaling, an 8th grade science teacher, plan to use the data and resources they have been given to help students to understand the science behind climate and climate change.
Ms Houghtaling found the most exciting and relevant part of the course to be the computer modeling of climate based on past data. She hopes to share these models with students in her class using her Smartboard, and to use the software to lead students to consider how specific changes in human decisions and activities might affect the earth in the future.
“It is really cutting edge exciting,” stated Houghtaling. “NASA is doing this because they want teachers to get involved, and through grassroots education through teachers, to make an impression on future citizens of the world to protect the earth for future generations,” she added.