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NAU grad students bring climate lessons to schools


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  • Theresa Bierer/Northern Arizona University

Jeff Bousson And Dara Marks Marino

Northern Arizona University students in a professional master’s program have benefitted learning experiences in high school classrooms, Flagstaff teachers are saying.

The graduate students in NAU’s Climate Science and Solutions program prepared a greenhouse gas inventory report for the Flagstaff Unified School District, measuring the effects of boiler combustion, energy use and transportation. Part of the semester-long project included communication with high school students.

NAU grad students bring climate lessons to schools Jeff-Bousson-and-Dara-Marks-MarinoInside

NAU grad student Jeff Bousson and Dara Marks Marino. Photo courtesy Northern Arizona University

“When the graduate students came into the classroom, it was an opportunity for my students to ask professionals-in-training about the real-world relevance of their experiences,” said Jeff Taylor, Flagstaff High School AP Environmental Science teacher. The interaction helped the high school students better understand implications of their decisions on the environment, Taylor added.

Julie Vlieg, an AP Environmental Science teacher at Coconino High School, agreed with Taylor that the experience helped students connect classroom learning with the real world. “Our class got a snapshot of how scientists research a question and how it can apply to something tangible such as determining the carbon footprint of a school,” Vlieg said.

The NAU scholars’ interaction with the high school students is part of the professional master’s program curriculum.

“We teach our graduate students to communicate with diverse populations about climate change, which can tend to be pretty controversial,” said NAU assistant professor Deborah Huntzinger. “It’s important to bring people to the table so everyone can learn from each other’s viewpoints and find common ground.”

Grad student Jeff Bousson said he was impressed with Flagstaff’s high school science students. “Our team asked them about the role of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere and asked their ideas about energy efficiencies,” Bousson said. “The students had different backgrounds and different levels of expertise, yet they knew a lot about things like smart metering,” said Bousson, referring to the devices that measure energy use.

The NAU graduate students plan to deliver the greenhouse gas inventory report to the Flagstaff Unified School District this month.