Dr. J. Randy McGinnis, a science education professor in the Center for Science and Technology in Education at the University of Maryland College of Education, was invited to be an expert speaker at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s “PaleoClimate Day” on March 29, 2018.
Leading scientific and educational researchers, educators and journalists convened to discuss climate change at the museum’s Earth Temperature History Symposium. The goal of the Symposium was to explore how research on climate change throughout Earth’s past can inform our understanding about climate change today and in the future.
Dr. McGinnis presented during the one-day program dedicated to science education and communication. His talk, “Climate Change Education: What Do We Know and How Might That Assist the Science Classroom Teacher,” emphasized the critical importance of using research-based findings to teach about climate change in the classroom.
Regarding how current U.S. educational policy may support this initiative, Dr. McGinnis noted: “The latest version of science standards for K-12 (the Next Generation Science Standards, NGSS) in our country include climate change as a coherent topic to be taught over many years,” Dr. McGinnis said.
However, he pointed out that the U.S. is divided in the way it teaches climate change.
“Comparing within the USA context only, it is one of two cities,” McGinnis said. “One in which teachers are beginning to teach [climate change] with a coherent and scientifically informed curriculum and one in which it is not being taught or if so, ineffectively.”
Dr. McGinnis, who is a faculty member in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership, also explored in his talk the views students currently have about climate change and how to improve classroom practices to effectively teach climate change. His own research interests focus on science teacher education, equity, climate change education and computational thinking.
With support from the National Science Foundation (project name, MADE CLEAR), Dr. McGinnis is leading a research team at UMD to investigate how to prepare teachers of science to teach climate change. A bold new direction that he, along with Dr. Wayne Breslyn (TLPL), is examining is the teaching of climate change through a computational mindset with a systems thinking focus.