Educating for Environmental Change (EfEC)

Educating for Environmental Change (EfEC)

Since 2017, Educating for Environmental Change (EfEC) has provided professional development programs to help K-12 science educators effectively teach the science and policy of climate change.

Utilizing hands-on activities co-designed by IU environmental scientists, EfEC helps elucidate and deepen educator understanding of key concepts related to climate change including its causes, impacts, and steps we can take to mitigate its severity. EfEC is a collaboration between Indiana University faculty, K-12 educators, and the WonderLab Museum of Science, Health, and Technology.

In 2020, EFEC received Indiana’s top environmental award, the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence, for “extraordinary initiatives in protecting the environment.”

This workshop has been mind-blowing, overwhelming (in a good way), and exciting. It has absolutely given me the confidence to teach climate change.

EfEC Participating Teacher, 2020

2024 Educating for Environmental Change Summer Science Institute

May 28-31, 2024

The Educating for Environmental Change Summer Science Institute will take place for four days, in-person, from May 28-31.

This summer, middle and high school teachers from across the country will gather at the Indiana University School of Education in Bloomington, Indiana to learn innovative new ways to teach climate science in the classroom. This free workshop will feature hands-on activities co-designed and facilitated by IU scientists and K-12 education leaders.

This program is designed for middle and high school science teachers and will provide classroom materials, a $500 stipend, lodging (for those who want to stay on campus) and all meals. Each daily workshop will run from 9AM to 3:30PM with breakfast starting at 8:30AM. Evening activities will also be provided for participating teachers who are staying on campus or want to stick around. Please note that recruitment priority will be given to teams of teachers from the same school and to teachers who have never attended an Educating for Environmental Change Summer Science Institute before.

Since 2017, more than 300 teachers have participated in the Educating for Environmental Change Summer Science Institute. Collectively, these teachers engage thousands of students each year.

Educating for Environmental Change is a collaboration between IU faculty, the IU Environmental Resilience Institute, the IU School of Education, and science educators from across the state and beyond. The program is made possible by two anonymous foundations and the IU Center for Rural Engagement.

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2023 Summer Science Institute Video

“First Tuesdays” Programs

Since November 2022, we have been offering shorter evening science education workshops focused on topics pertaining to climate change on the first Tuesday of each month. Some of the workshops are held virtually while others are held in-person. Each program is designed to be fast-paced, interesting, and educational.

Description: Climate change happens slowly and for this reason is difficult to visualize or to comprehend. Fortunately, new studies of the changing climate are now able to help disentangle human caused changes in climate from natural changes. We will look carefully at climate from several points of view: the science, impacts, both global and local, and our response. Identifying our human involvement in climate change sharply focuses our response.

This session will take place on Tuesday May 7th at Upland Brewery in Bloomington, Indiana, 7-8:30pm.

About the presenter: Dr. Ben Brabson is Professor Emeritus, Physics, at Indiana University. His research interests include experimental elementary particle physics and the physics of climate change.

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Tuesday, April 2: Four Minutes in April: A Total Solar Eclipse in Indiana

For four minutes April 8th, millions of Americans will witness darkness at midday as the moon’s shadow passes across Indiana. In this session, participants learned about the upcoming total solar eclipse and how they can use this celestial event to teach students about our planet and solar system.

About the presenter: Dr. Caty Pilachowski is Distinguished Professor and Daniel Kirkwood Chair of Astronomy at Indiana University where she teaches and conducts research on the evolution of stars and the chemical history of the Milky Way Galaxy from studies of chemical composition of stars and star clusters.

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Tuesday, March 5: Cultivating Climate Champions: A Dynamic Approach to Teaching Climate Change Across Subjects

Particpants discovered and explored inquiry-based ideas to help their students investigate climate change across different subject matter areas, and learned how media literacy strategies can help them and their students meet the climate change challenge.

About the presenter: Dr. James Damico is Professor of Literacy, Culture, and Language Education in the School of Education at Indiana University. Dr. Damico’s scholarship and teaching centers on critical literacies and inquiry-based approaches for working with digital media and complex topics, especially climate change.


Tuesday, February 6: Successes and Challenges from the UN Conference of the Parties (COP) on Climate Change

Participants learned about the successes and challenges from the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). For two weeks in November, much of the world’s attention was focused on Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, and the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27. Indiana University sent an official delegation to COP27, led by Dr. Jessica O’Reilly, environmental anthropologist, and Associate Professor of International Studies. In this session, Dr. O’Reilly shared her experiences and insights from the conference.


Tuesday, December 5: Earthquake Disasters in Turkey and Morocco: Making Sense of the Incomprehensible (Online)

This year, we have seen two devastating earthquake disasters—a series of earthquakes near the Turkey-Syria border in February 2023 and one in Morocco in September. Together, these two disasters left over 60,000 dead and hundreds of thousands left homeless. In this presentation, I examined the causes, impacts, and implications of these devastating earthquakes. We discussed the unusual geologic and seismological aspects of these natural disasters, and explored the geographic, social, and political context that often contribute to the widespread devastation associated with these disasters.

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Tuesday, November 7: From Oil to Soil: Global Carbon Flux and Soil Respiration

Ecosystems play a central role in the global carbon cycle, removing CO2 via photosynthesis and releasing CO2 back to the atmosphere via autotrophic and heterotrophic respiration. Thus, there is great interest in understanding which factors control carbon uptake and release, and how these factors vary within and among ecosystems, and respond to climate change. This First Tuesday event provided a primer on soil respiration and the role it plays regulating our atmosphere, including the drivers of soil respiration.


Tuesday, October 3: Some (Don’t) Like it Hot: Climate Change and the Summer of ‘23

The summer of 2023 was probably one that many Americans would prefer not to repeat—record-breaking high temperatures across the country, wildfires in Canada setting off air-quality warnings in cities across the northeast, ocean temperatures that made beach vacations feel more like a hot tub. What’s going on here? Are they just some odd “black swan” event or are they signs of our climate future. Atmospheric scientist Paul Staten explores the climate science behind these weather-related phenomena, exploring the role of natural variability, anthropogenic climate change, volcanic eruptions, and short-term variations like the El Nino-Southern Oscillation. Participating teachers came away with a clearer idea how to distinguish between these various processes and ways to bring this state-of-the-art science into your classroom discussions.


Tuesday March 7, 2023: Take Me to the River: Researching River Flood Plains

River floodplains and deltas are some of the most dynamic surface environments on Earth. However, because these landscapes are flat, it is difficult to perceive with the naked eye how fast they change over time, and how they are responding to a warming climate. Dr. Eric Barefoot will showcase some of the techniques geologists use to measure the impact of changing climate on these sensitive landscapes. The methods range from the high-tech (lasers mounted on satellites and drones), to the extremely low-tech (shovels and sticks). By combining different methods, we will see how seemingly flat, quiet marshlands transform in slow-motion, sometimes with disastrous outcomes.


Tuesday, February 7, 2023: The Future of Nuclear Power

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"The Future of Nuclear Power." Two professors of nuclear physics, Dr. Tim Londergan and Dr. Steven Vigdor will present “the future of nuclear power”. Nuclear power is one among several alternatives for carbon-free energy production to address global climate change. There are two basic types of nuclear power, utilizing the fission of heavy nuclei or the fusion of very light nuclei. Past serious accidents at fission reactor plants and the daunting engineering problems facing attempts to harness thermonuclear fusion in power plants have led to great public skepticism about the future role of nuclear power. However, renewed interest in the design of small modular fission reactors and recent technical breakthroughs in achieving fusion energy have spawned a new nuclear industry featuring many start-up commercial companies. This program will describe the advances, challenges, and prospects for modular fission reactors and nuclear fusion power plants and how they can play an important part in our carbon-free energy future. For more information, please contact Adam Scribner (jascrib@iu.edu).


Tuesday, December 6, 2022: Three Billion Missing Birds, What Can We Do?

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"Three Billion Missing Birds, What Can We Do?" Dr. Ellen Ketterson and researcher Sarah Wanamaker will share their knowledge of the extent of the decline in bird populations in North America and globally over the past 50 years including the causes of the decline and information on what individuals can do to help. They will also share tools for students and adults to identify birds by sound and sight. For more information, please contact Adam Scribner (jascrib@iu.edu).


Tuesday, November 1, 2022: The Pandemic, Natural Disasters, and the Teachable Moment

Dr. Michael Hamburger, Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Indiana University will present “The Pandemic, Natural Disasters, and the Teachable Moment”. This program will help teachers turn recent disasters -- whether in our city or a thousand miles away – into meaningful classroom discussions for our students. The program’s driving questions are how can we be prepared, as teachers, to discuss these recent events, to share the science behind them, and to use these events to connect our students to the science that we study? To attend, please RSVP to Adam Scribner (jascrib@iu.edu).

Our Team

Affiliated Faculty
Project Partners
Graduate Students
  • Sander Denham, PhD candidate, Environmental Science, O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs
  • Conghui Liu, PhD Candidate, School of Education
  • Deidra Miniard, PhD Candidate, O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs
  • Shukufe Rahman, PhD Candidate, School of Education
  • Qiu Zhong, Graduate Student, School of Education
  • Qidi Zhu, MPA Candidate, O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs

This project is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute and Indiana University’s Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative. The project is generously funded by the Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement and two anonymous foundations.