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Local teacher among first to add climate change to lesson plan

Courtesy: Teagan Thomas

In the fall of 2013, Delaware became the seventh state in the country to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards.

Among these new science standards, students are expected to learn about climate change, a topic that’s dominated the news, but not the classroom. Teagan Thomas, a science teacher at Las Americas ASPIRA Academy in Newark, introduced the concept of climate change to sixth graders for the first time at the school in the past year.

Initially, Thomas says she was faced with many perplexing questions from her studnets.

“Are we going to die? What’s going to happen to me? Is there going to be a massive flood?

I got the whole Day After Tomorrow movie, is that what’s going to happen?” Tomas noted.

But Thomas says those panicked questions eventually evolved into thoughtful conversations about how the students themselves could reduce their impact on the planet.

“I really wanted to present the facts to them and make it very science based and not political," said Thomas.  "And [I wanted to] have the kids do the research on what is weather, what is climate, what’s the difference between weather and climate. Just because it’s cold one day and it’s warm the next, does that mean it’s climate change necessarily?”

Thomas was also selected as a 2015 National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow this year. Last month, she traveled with 34 other educators to the Arctic Svalbard for a 10-day expedition, where she shadowed scientists and saw the loss of Arctic ice in person.