Developing an Educational Module on the Impacts of Climate Change on Puerto Rico and its Inhabitants

team El Yunque #2Sponsoring organization: United States Forest Service

Team members: Princesa Cloutier (Robotics Engineering ’16), Michael Gagliano (Aerospace Engineering ’16), Emma Raymond (Industrial Engineering ’16)

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Abstract: Small islands like the island of Puerto Rico are susceptible to the negative effects of anthropogenic climate change. Because of this, it is important that climate change education is developed and implemented on the island so that the population, especially its youth, can adequately adapt to climate change. The goal of this project was to develop effective lessons that could be used to teach middle school students in Río Grande, Puerto Rico about the immediate and long-term effects of climate change. These lessons were designed to be relevant to the students by providing evidence and examples of climate change in the island of Puerto Rico. Through the use of interviews with experts on climate change, members of environmental education initiatives, and teachers, we were able to determine what material to incorporate into our lessons and how to best deliver it. To analyze the effectiveness of our lessons we tested our lesson on a ninth grade class and utilized a pre-test and a post-test as a method of evaluation. These tests asked questions based on the learning objectives covered in the lessons, and were then compared using statistical analysis. The analysis showed a significant increase in understanding climate change based on the information provided in the lessons. Additional evaluations suggested that the lessons required further development to incite a greater increase of student knowledge on climate change. We revised the lessons, and recommend that they be tested further and in different settings. Additionally, we developed supplemental lesson outlines to deepen student understanding of climate change topics that are relevant to Puerto Rico. We recommend that these outlines be further developed and tested so that they may encourage climate change education and help pave the way to having a more environmentally conscientious Puerto Rican youth.