Learning about climate change
Climate change is a broad topic which can be tricky to understand. The impacts of climate change and ways in which we can all help to reduce the climate change effect is important for us all to learn, but did you know you can make learning about it fun, as well as informative?
Net Zero Officer, Alice, shares five fun activities to explore with children.
Activity 1: The Greenhouse Effect
What you will need:
- A blanket
- A globe (or an image of Earth)
- A yellow ball (to represent the Sun, or an image of the Sun)
Have one child holding the globe, one child holding the yellow ball and one child holding the blanket. The child holding the yellow ball should be directing it towards the globe.
Explain that the Sun is essential to life on planet Earth. The atmosphere traps some of the Sun’s rays, whilst some of the Sun’s rays are reflected into space, so Earth is just the right temperature for life (this is known as the greenhouse effect). However, increased greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, generated through human activities such as manufacturing, transport and agriculture, are causing the atmosphere to thicken, acting like a blanket around Earth.
Have the child with the blanket wrap it around the child with the globe. Ask how does the blanket make you feel? Discuss that we wrap ourselves in blankets to feel warm/hot.
This is causing the temperature of planet Earth to heat up. The increase in global temperature is causing climates to change across the world; some places are experiencing droughts and more extreme heatwaves and wildfires; some places are experiencing floods and more extreme storms. It is also affecting many of Earth’s habitats, including oceans, which are heating up and becoming more acidic, causing coral bleaching and threats to ocean species.
You could then try the experiment on pages 6-7 of the STEM resource ‘Earth under the lid’ to explore the greenhouse effect further. You might like to extend this further by using a third jar with an extra layer of cling film.
Activity 2: Energy Saving Home Audit
What you will need:
- An energy audit sheet (below)
- A pencil
- A clipboard (optional)
Ask your child/children what uses energy in our house? You may have answers like heating (usually gas or oil) and electricity (lights, television, microwave, fridge, and many more!) Use the energy audit sheet to complete an energy audit of your home, to see what steps can be taken to save energy in the home. Explain that by taking steps to reduce energy usage, such as switching lights off, will help reduce carbon emissions as less fossil fuel will need to be burned in order to generate energy (used to create electricity or heat your home), and therefore contribute to combatting climate change.
After your child/children have completed the energy audit sheet, they could write an action plan for how your home could save more energy or place stickers or posters around your house to remind everyone to switch things off (if you don’t mind having artwork on display!)