Climate Kit for schools – LMU Faculty of Physics endowment fund
10 Jan 2023
Astrophysicist Dr. Cecilia Scorza has launched a project to help schoolchildren understand climate change: “Only by understanding the science behind it can you have an effective impact.” The Climate Kit project is supported by Foundations@LMU
“One person can’t save the world,” says astrophysicist and coordinator of public relations at LMU Faculty of Physics, Dr. Cecilia Scorza. “But everyone can make a start in their local area.” So she thought about what she could do in her environment to protect our planet. She already had a vague idea. But when a student asked her whether taking cold showers could stop global warming, it became clear to her that schoolchildren need better education on this subject. The idea for the “Climate Change – Understanding and Action” project was born. In fact, taking cold showers in winter does not help, explains Scorza. “All it’s likely to do is make you sick.
”But how are schoolchildren meant to know better? Most parents do not know much about the climate crisis and the subject is not really covered during teacher training. At the heart of the project, which is funded from donations through an LMU endowment fund, is the Climate Kit, which schools can order at the cost price of 315 euros. With relatively simple setups, the kit enables teachers and students to investigate various scientific relationships through experiments – from the absorption of thermal radiation by CO2 to the acidification of the oceans. Regular events are held to publicize the project and train teachers.
Schools are showing keen interest in the climate crisis
Even though syllabuses in Germany leave little room for learning about climate change, the Climate Kit has been a resounding success. There are currently partners and training courses in 15 German states, and in 2023 there will be a nationwide teacher training program. Government ministries and universities have shown interest. And inquiries have come even from Austria. “Production is struggling to keep up with all the orders,” smiles Scorza. People with physical impairments are also benefiting, as the Climate Kits are made at a Caritas workshop in Dachau. In Bavaria, the Climate Kit is compulsory in 9th class in academic secondary schools (Gymnasien). Other types of secondary school (Realschulen and Mittelschulen) are due to follow suit shortly.
However, there is more to the undertaking than the Climate Kit, which belongs to the “Understanding” part of the project. There are lesson modules for the “Shaping the Future” part, where teachers can carry out experiments to obtain renewable energy from sun, wind, and water.
Meanwhile, the “Action” part of the project is designed to encourage and support students who want to do something concrete about global warming. This can involve urban landscaping in city schools, for instance, or alternative mobility options in rural areas to reduce car journeys. “We originally developed the project for physics,” says Scorza. “Now there are also experiments for geography, chemistry, and biology.”
In 2021, the project was classed as “system-changing” in the education category of the “Impact Times 100” (Wirkung hoch 100) competition. Now the project is set to be rolled out worldwide by 2024. This timetable is by no means unrealistic, as Scorza has experience in this kind of enterprise. The “Universe in a box” initiative brought a kit with practical astronomy-related activities for teachers to over 60 countries. “So I’ve a good network of contacts,” she says. As the next step, the Climate Kit will be translated into various languages. Indeed, it is already being used in Colombia. There are also plans to create a platform for connecting people who are interested in implementing climate protection projects online and in person.
The huge popularity of the project means a lot of work for the team of volunteers. “At the same time, the success makes me happy and motivates me,” says Scorza. She is glad to have had access to professional foundation management through Foundations@LMU. “Without this help, the project would not be possible,” emphasizes Scorza. It is also a great sign, she adds, that LMU is building these connections to high school education.