“With the Climathon, we develop citizen commitment on climate issues”.

By E.Iuliani and E.Lachat

Simon Klein is a scientific mediator at the OCE (Office for Climate Education), a partner of the Maison pour la science en Alsace in the organization of the Climathon. Within the framework of this climate challenge, he was present at the launch of the projects in the partner middle schools, at the beginning of February, and we took the opportunity to question him on this subject.

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What is your role, as an OCE mediator, and in general what is OCE’s role in this Climathon?

“What’s important in this kind of event is to get people to understand concepts by ensuring that the scientific learning is relevant, in-depth and provides an overview. To do this, an investigative approach is called for : for example, through analogy activities, or even through manipulations to see when and how the temperature rises. Everything becomes much more concrete: as it comes from them, the students are better able to understand what is at stake. We can then issue injunctions on how to reduce our environmental impact, and not just say “don’t use your car” or “don’t waste”.

Going through this investigative approach also gives students a scientific bases and a reflex of scientific process, which consists of experimenting to answer their questions. It is a type of pedagogy inherited from the Fondation La main la p璽te, which we continue to activate at the OCE, and which allows science to be introduced directly into primary school and facilitates learning in middle school.

In concrete terms, what actions does this translate into?

“After the phase of scientific explanations, we enter into a project approach where it is the students who will be the bearers of the ideas. In Schirmecks school (one on the middle school involved in Climathon), for example, the students have reflected on the issue of transportation and the promotion of bicycles, at the level of their municipality and the school. They want to integrate a new bicycle shelter and seek to facilitate access, with a view to having a reduced carbon footprint. At the Coll癡ge de l’Esplanade (an another middle school involved in Climathon), we’ve been working on urban heat islands* during the heat waves, so we’re working on projects to adapt the urban environment. In particular, they have worked with landscape designers to find solutions for greening the area.

With the Climathon, we are using a project-based pedagogical approach, i.e. we are going to set up projects that are not just done over one session or one day, but rather over several sessions and that will involve a class, or even several classes from different schools. The idea with these initiatives is to try to go beyond the school setting to reach out to parents or the community around them. And we can see that there is a real interest: despite the health situation, whole days are made commonplace so that either eco-delegates or whole classes work on the theme of climate”.

Why do you think it’s important to set up events like the Climathon?

“For the moment we are only at the beginning of the projects, but the fact of having a rather material realization of their commitment, I think it’s very important for the students! To come back to the example of the Esplanade College, they have even launched a citizen engagement approach to promote planting and regreening around their homes. In this way, the link is made between the school and the surrounding community, and the children see that they are listened to, that they are the bearers of their own initiative.

We are there to guide them, but also to show them that other actors, for example from the community, are there to answer their questions and requests. Beyond the intellectual commitment, we move on to a higher dimension, which is the citizen commitment on climate issues, and we show them that the commitment of a simple citizen is essential”.

Can you tell us a little bit about the other missions of the OCE?

“The main mission of OCE is to support teachers in the implementation of climate change education projects. This requires very up-to-date knowledge, because there are things that are only now being discovered and the majority of teachers were trained at a time when climate was not being talked about as much. But climate education also requires true multidisciplinarity: it is a subject that is so systemic and linked to current events, that we need to have scientific knowledge, but also notions of moral and civic education!

Concretely, we organize training days for teachers, during which we put them in direct contact with researchers, but we also train them on the pedagogies that can be used to address this climate issue. We also provide guides for popularizing IPCC reports, for example, so that teachers can continue to be informed. And finally, we produce ready to use educational resources with activities for primary and secondary schools, which can either be used directly in the classroom, or from which teachers can pick up ideas”.

Thanks you Simon !

Caption : The students are working on the feasibility of a new bicycle access, at the secondary school of Schirmeck (rural and mountainous area). It takes advantage of the presence of landscapers and municipal police officers to properly assess the possibilities of this project.

Why is this approach “SPOON” compatible?
Because it encourages a decompartmentalization of knowledge and encourages a project process with multiple inputs. These project approaches encourage collaboration, communication and long-term investment for concrete purposes within the school’s boundaries.


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