STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) – A Stockton teacher is among a select group of California high school educators participating in a climate change pilot program.
Scott Jorgensen, a teacher at Pacific Law Academy, teaches a program developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the San Joaquin and Kern county Bureau of Education departments.
He teaches the curriculum during his Honors Biology and Advanced Environmental Science courses. The program is aligned with scientific standards, Jorgensen said.
“It’s the biggest problem facing our species,” Jorgensen said of the climate crisis.
Jorgensen is currently in his fourth year teaching at the school and has worked for the Stockton Unified School District for five years.
Before learning the program, students were asked about their knowledge and concerns about climate change. About 80% of students who responded were concerned about climate change, while less than 50% recalled having ever learned about it in another class. Jorgensen’s students were part of this investigation.
While teaching the program, Jorgensen said his students love learning about climate change, but admitted it can be difficult at times. He added that his students “discover there is more to learn” and “light bulbs go out” in their heads.
“Students want to know why our media always talk about climate change as this big issue,” Jorgensen said. “They are curious. They want a future. We always tell them that their future is affected by it, so they want to understand.
The program that Jorgensen teaches consists of four different phases, with some experiments. In an experiment, students learned how carbon dioxide (CO2) and water are formed carbonic acid, which is a compound of the elements hydrogen, carbon and oxygen.
Students breathe into a cup through a straw and watch the color change occur in the water.
Another experiment involved learning about ocean acidification using antacid tablets. Ocean acidification This is when the oceans absorb a significant portion of the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere by human activities.
“Students put these antacids in different solutions and took before and after measurements. So they conducted their own investigation into the effects of ocean acidification,” Jorgensen explained.
Jorgensen said his students learned how CO2 traps heat in the atmosphere, which he says drives global temperature changes.
He said recently that his students have started phase three of the program. This involves planning, researching, and creating a model of what a carbon capture and storage infrastructure system would look like in the state.
Carbon capture and storage is the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide before it is released into the atmosphere.
Jorgensen said the third activity gets students “thinking about systems and putting them together.”
For phase four, students create public service announcements that will educate their peers and the community about carbon capture and storage and the importance of the process.
Jorgensen said the San Joaquin and Kern county offices of education and the Livermore Lab expected the program to take 14 classroom hours. As he continues the lesson, he discovers that it will take longer for his students to learn about climate change.
“I find that to move at a pace that the overwhelming majority of my students understand and won’t be left behind, I think I’ll spend closer to 25 hours in class,” Jorgensen said. “It’s not wasted time, but it’s just the time to take.”
Most of the other high school educators teaching the program are in Kern County. Another Stockton educator who is part of the program is Austin McLeod, a professor of chemistry at Pacific Law Academy.
Jorgensen said the Livermore Lab aims to bring all the teachers together this summer for a debriefing.
“At the end of the day, if students aren’t educated about climate change in the public school system, we’re doing them a disservice,” he said.
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