$5.7M NSF Grant For Card Games, Videos To Teach Public About Global Warming

August 20, 2013 - 11:40 AM

 

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(National Science Foundation)

(CNSNews.com) – A multi-million dollar project funded by the National Science Foundation is developing card games, videos and other educational programs “to engage adult learners and inform public understanding and response to climate change.”

The $5.7 million Polar Learning and Responding (PoLAR) project is just the latest in a series of federally-funded climate change efforts since Congress established the Climate Change Educational Partnership (CCEP) in 2009.

CCEP has already spent $46 million on taxpayer-funded research projects around the country designed to find the most effective ways to convince Americans that the federal government should confront what researchers claim is the threat of global warming.

Stephanie Pfirman, principal investigator and professor of environmental science at Barnard College, told CNSNews.com that one of the games under development by PoLAR is “EcoChains” - a card game in which “players learn the components of an Arctic marine food chain, the reliance of some species on sea ice, and potential impacts of future changes.”

Other games include “Future Coast” -  described as “a community-based activity where participants consider the implications of sea level rise coupled with a storm surge, as happened with [Hurricane] Sandy.”

Also under development is “The Polar Explorer” game, which “charts a range of ways to explore Earth climate data both spatially and temporally,” and “a mobile app that is designed to help people understand the relationships of climate change to their day-to-day lives.”

Educational initiatives include “radio programs that address both local Arctic and Antarctic perspectives on climate change,” and “online teacher professional development courses” that educate “middle and high school teachers” on contributing factors and consequences of climate change

Scientists and like-minded educators are hoping that the games developed by PoLAR will eventually lead to a society that accepts global warming as a fact, and is willing to adopt “responses and solutions.”

“Achieving this vision requires profound and sustained transformations in formal (K-16) and informal educational systems across the nation, both to improve the quality and effectiveness of learning materials, pedagogies, and educator preparation for climate education and to increase access and exposure to effective resources,” according to a CCEP Alliance Office solicitation.

Authorized in 2012 and running through 2017, PoLAR grantees will be spending $5.7 million of additional taxpayer funds in an effort to convince “millions of adults” to support a “change in practices and policies by seeding game-like approaches in informal and formal educational environments” – despite the fact that the Earth’s temperature has been at a statistical standstill for a decade and a half, and may have actually begun cooling instead of warming.

“Climate change is especially pronounced in polar regions – which is what our project addresses,” Pfirman told CNSNews. “Arctic sea ice reached historic low extent and volume last year,” she continued. “Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and many smaller glaciers, continue losing mass and contributing to sea level rise.”

However, data recently released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that temperatures in the North Pole are well below normal this year.

“Doom and gloom is not going to motivate anyone. It is more important to educate people so that they can come up with solutions,” said Mary-Elena Carr, associate director of Columbia University’s Climate Center.

According to the CCEP description on the National Science Foundation website, the program’s educational research objectives include “preparing a new generation of climate scientists, engineers, and technicians equipped to provide innovative and creative approaches to understanding global climate change and to mitigate its impact” and “preparing today's U.S. citizens to understand global climate change and its implications in ways that can lead to informed, evidence-based responses and solutions.”

As part of the CCEP program, the National Science Foundation funded the establishment of a national Climate Change Educational Partnership Alliance Office to coordinate the research efforts of various climate education studies across America.

Asked about the project’s benefits to American taxpayers, Pfirman said, “Educated citizens will be better prepared for a changing climate. Because the U.S. is an Arctic nation, public awareness of the implications of changes taking place in that region is important.”