Using digital tools to improve climate literacy in 12 year olds

An untapped and previously unexplored science communication pathway.

As climate change gradually alters the conditions both of our planet and our existence, we must begin to consider new ways to alter our behaviour to mitigate and adapt to this uncertain future. Although conventional wisdom suggests adults and the mature members of our community must lead this change, new research and findings are suggesting that early adolescents may be key players in the shift towards sustainable emission targets and environmental engagement in general. This research explores the role of early adolescents (12-13 years old) as potential change agents – and the promise of new media in improving climate literacy in this age group. Examining the opinions and existing understanding of climate science in the 12-13 year age group, our findings highlight the enormous potential of this group as change agents both towards increased sustainability and in the broader public arena.

About the speaker

Working in climate science communication since 2007 as the director of an environmental education foundation in public and private schools in Austria and Denmark, I became increasingly concerned by the ‘dragons of inaction’ that prevent individuals from effectively engaging in climate change. After many years of working with school children (primary and secondary), it became apparent that our efforts to engage young people were not only poorly-targeted, but were delivering the wrong information and skills. In addition to this environmental education work, I have been employed by the University of Copenhagen (2009-present) as research assistant/lecturer to teach climate science. As well as teaching and coordinating an MSc-level course on climate change and environmental management in Europe, I was involved in researching online pedagogical frameworks and design (design-instruction/pedagogical framework/new media and digital tools in science communication). These undertakings considerably informed both my science education/communication background as well as my current research pathway.