Manomet staff visited three southeastern Massachusetts school districts in May to help initiate monitoring of biological climate change indicators as part of the new Climate Lab program.
The program teaches educators how their students can collect data on climate change indicators at their own schools.
Middle school math and science teachers from three Massachusetts school districts – Duxbury, Sandwich and Wareham – are participating in the pilot, which was launched in 2012 in partnership with the land conservation organization Wildlands Trust, the Rising Tide Charter School, and TERC, a Cambridge-based academic non-profit.
Last October, Manomet held a workshop where teachers learned to measure biological climate change indicators including average percent canopy, shrub and herb cover, leaf development, tree height and tree DBH (diameter breast height). The teachers brought these methods back to set up their own ‘climate labs’ on school grounds and surrounding properties where students will collect data each year. During the pilot stage, Manomet scientists are visiting schools to ensure standardized monitoring among all participants.
“We worked with 7th and 8th grade students at each school to identify which plant species and individual plants to monitor,” said Trevor Lloyd-Evans, who is leading Manomet’s involvement in the program. “We then discussed monitoring methods and showed them how to collect and record data.”
Students will re-measure each of the vegetation parameters in the same places at the same times each year, collecting data several times during the growing season in spring and once in summer or early fall after plants have reached full leaf out. These data will be used to build a database on local climate change impacts.
“Over time, the students will be able to compare trends in the data that they collected with trends from Manomet data for median spring arrival dates of common bird species,” Lloyd-Evans said. “They will be able to make connections between temperature, the timing of plant leaf out, insect hatching and when bird species are arriving back in the northeast in spring. Climate Lab engages young people in standardized data collection and analysis, allows them to draw their own conclusions about how climate change is impacting local species, and gets them out of the classroom and into nature.”
The Climate Lab program is now being piloted by 13 teachers in six schools, engaging almost 500 students.
“I think kids carry experiences with them more than worksheets,” said Duxbury Middle School Science Teacher Nate Sylvester. “Being thought of by their teachers as independent enough to gather real world data gives students a sense of importance that cannot be achieved by taking a test.”
To learn more about the Climate Lab program, visit www.manomet.org/climatelab.
– Haley Jordan