Climate change activists are touting new evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of educational programs that seek to transform American schoolchildren into anti-carbon activists through the power of animation and freestyle rapping.
The Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) is a non-profit organization that seeks to educate students on climate science and inspire them to take collective action to fight global climate change.
One of the major ways it does so is by organizing school assemblies in which it uses cartoons, music, and even rapping to motivate children to stop living large and join climate activist groups. The assembly has been performed at over 2,300 schools and has reached over 1.7 million students. The long-term goal is to boost climate engagement among young people and minorities, mobilize some of them to become activists for the cause, and in turn counteract recent evidence that relatively few Americans are worried about climate change as an issue.
Now, a new study released in the latest edition of the journal Climatic Change indicates that this school propagandizing may be working. Researchers from Yale, Stanford, and George Mason University surveyed a total of 1,241 high school students at 49 schools that hosted the assemblies to gauge their opinions regarding climate change both before and after the presentations.
When researchers checked up on them several days after the assemblies, students were significantly more likely to express agreement with ACE’s ideology. “Recognition of scientific agreement that climate change is happening” soared by 15 percent, while 38 percent of children rose to a higher level of climate concern on a six-point spectrum that ranges from “dismissive” to “alarmed.”
They were more likely to take action as well: the proportion of students talking to their friends or parents about climate change more than doubled from 9 and 6 percent, respectively, to 21 and 15 percent.
“We find this encouraging,” researchers said, “as it suggests that students carry the Climatic Change information and enthusiasm they gained from the edutainment presentation into their families and social circles.”
The survey also found that high schoolers were more likely to perform a host of minor climate-saving behaviors, including taking shorter showers, unplugging electronic devices when not in use, and shutting off the lights more frequently.
The authors, hardly neutral on the topic themselves, conclude that more effort is needed, however, and that “further intervention will likely be necessary to cultivate deeper engagement in the climate change issue among youth.” That further intervention is close at hand, as researchers note that ACE’s long-term strategy is to collaborate with willing school staff to present updated and modified assemblies to the same students for several years in a row.
“Given the changes resulting from a single presentation, the net impact of all these intervention efforts could be a population shift in climate science knowledge and positive engagement in the issue of climate change.”
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