“Nine out of 10 scientists believe that humans are causing global climate change, surveys suggest. But only about one out of two science-education facilities are discussing it at all”.
Two recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette articles explored the presence of climate change lessons in museums. Some people are concerned that nationally, museums are not addressing climate change with their audiences. One expert estimates only about half of facilities around the country are addressing the issue “one way or another”. Some institutions explain that facts in this category are controversial and not conducive to creating science exhibits which often take years to develop. Others argue that the sponsors and funders of some museums are barriers to speaking candidly about climate change.
Everyone seems to agree that museums are able to reach large populations. Many see it as a responsibility of theirs to communicate about climate change.
At the end of the article, “Discussion of climate change is scarce at some Pittsburgh science-education institutions”, the Climate and Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP) is mentioned. For several years NMRWA has been part of this effort to reach more people with lessons on climate change. CUSP is a national project, funded by the National Science Foundation, with groups working in Philadelphia, New York, Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. Each city works to create a model of climate change education that can be used in cities around the country. Focusing on community issues, the group relates climate change back to their audiences. Many Pittsburgh area organizations, with a focus on the environment, come together to form CUSP.
NMRWA has been participating in discussions and activities of CUSP. This year, CUSP created a fun and exciting plan to engage kids and adults in learning about climate change. CUSP’s leaders assembled an impressive Climate Change Playground where anyone could learn how everything from daily activities to city planning can affect our climate.
You can read more about the Climate Change Playground in our blog post about ALCOSAN’s Open House where NMRWA staff participated in the playground.
CUSP focuses on creating activities that are fun and engaging for kids and adults. All of the aspects of the playground are hands-on and interactive, inviting kids to take an active role in their learning. Adults often become engaged through their kids. In every CUSP activity, participants learn what they can do to help combat the effects of climate change. NMRWA focuses on the green infrastructure activity where participants see how a rain storm floods a city and how green infrastructure reduces the amount of rain a city has to endure. We are able to deliver the message that green infrastructure brings many benefits with it and it can reduce the amount of water coming into Nine Mile Run. We explain that with climate change, we can expected more severe weather events like large rain storms. Finally, we ensure participants understand that green infrastructure is accessible to them whether they purchase it for their home or advocate for its use in their communities.
NMRWA is excited to be part of CUSP and share what everyone can do to protect and conserve Nine Mile Run. CUSP collects data and information at each playground they assemble. They hope to continue to improve on their activities based on this information. All of the activities are available for partner organizations and educators to use and will be shared with the CUSP partner cities, expanding the reach of the climate change lessons.
What do you think? Should museums offer more educational opportunities about climate change?
Check out some pictures below of the Climate Change Playground at the ALCOSAN Open House.