230 Students Successfully Complete The Climate Classroom

The highly anticipated and fully booked Climate Classroom made its return to the ASU BIOS campus recently, leading students through an immersive learning experience. The novel program highlighted climate change science while exploring current and future potential impacts for Bermuda. With exclusive donor support from HSBC, 230 students participated in this gamified immersive learning experience for M2s across Bermuda between February 27th and March 14th. The Climate Classroom invited students to explore the ASU BIOS campus, learning about the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems and Bermuda’s coastlines through the Curriculum Enrichment Program within ASU BIOS’s Ocean Academy. Students were exposed to future careers in ocean science, while piloting emerging media such as extended reality [XR].

“This training allowed Ocean Academy to find creative new ways to engage students in ASU BIOS’s longstanding atmospheric and ocean research. Creating scientific games enabled us to facilitate student-led data collection and interpretation alongside re-enforcing immersive hands-on STEM experiences,” said Kaitlin Noyes, Director of Education and Community Engagement at ASU BIOS.

The workshop was student-led, eliciting interactive hands-on problem solving in small teams both in the laboratory and around the ASU BIOS campus. Throughout the puzzle-style quest students utilized scientific instruments to collect data, applied cross-cutting mathematics and physics concepts, and worked together to solve puzzles. Students worked to unlock clues relating to ocean warming, ocean acidification, greenhouse gasses and shifts in oceanic food webs.

Exclusive donor support from HSBC enable ASU BIOS to deliver this innovative training. Shannon Burgess, Chief Risk Officer, and Executive Committee sponsor of the programme said. HSBC is honored to continue our partnership with the Climate Classroom and witness the positive impact that this education porgramme has on its young participants. We believe this interactive learning experience equips students with skills and awareness needed to become environmental champions and drive meaningful change.”

Students also used virtual reality [VR] to learn through the perspective of tiny plankton, taking them beneath the waves through the “Drop in the Ocean” experience. The experience was narrated by Philippe and Ashlan Cousteau, built from the award-winning micro-photography of Peter Parks, and produced by a collaboration between Vision 3 and Conservation International. Balanced on the back of a virtual jellyfish students met sea turtles and whale sharks, and were led through the microscopic world that serves as the backbone of the oceanic food web. Students also had the opportunity to learn about how planktonic food webs are shifting, and build life-sized graphs to better understand these data.

Attending The Climate Classroom was an educational highlight for W’niy Christopher, an M2 student at Whitney Institute Middle School. He said, “This is the best field trip I’ve ever been on. We got to look at Oculus virtual reality which was really fun, and I haven’t ever done an escape room before now. It has made me want to return to BIOS this summer to explore more.”

During the workshop, Noyes led students through a hands-on laboratory demonstrating the chemical process underlying ocean acidification. These sessions served as an opportunity for students to reinforce chemistry concepts such as acids and bases, and to safely mix household compounds and see their applications in ocean science. “We enjoyed letting students put their thinking caps on and become mad scientists, and think about how the chemistry of our ocean is changing,” said Noyes.

“The Climate Classroom was an opportunity to learn about scientific methods from experts, helping us to understand how science in the classroom at school is actually used in real life – and to make a real difference,” said Jodie Walters an M2 teacher at Bermuda High School. “This has been a fantastic hands-on experience for students. The clever and fun problem-solving activities really helped to consolidate the key information taught.”

The puzzle-style quest was engineered to introduce students to the climate data that ASU BIOS collects, with a specific focus on creating engaging ways for students to explore, collect and manipulate data. The course encompassed mini experiments, glow in the dark clues, graph interpretation and gameplay to explore topics such as greenhouse gasses, heat energy, ocean acidification and photosynthesis.

“The Climate Classroom is one of my favorite times of the year at ASU BIOS. It is so rewarding to create a climate escape room and see students work together to unlock the challenges. One of my favorite parts is when students have to use their ultra-violet flashlights to spell out the word photosynthesis and understand how climate change affects phytoplankton,” said ASU BIOS Science Education Coordinator Alex Merkle-Raymond. “I’m already excited for next year to see the students take on more climate quests and engage in science.”

“The Climate Classroom is a hands-on activity which strongly reinforces the climate and weather component in the science curriculum; also, team work is encompassed which is a skill students can build on,” said Alanna King, an M2 teacher at Dellwood Middle School. “The hands-on experiences keep students highly engaged.”

Noyes said, “We are very proud of how the program has evolved, and we are committed to continue to bring awareness to the invaluable climate research that ASU BIOS undertakes to better understand our planet. We hope to continue to innovate and deliver hands-on learning opportunities alongside HSBC for Bermuda’s middle school students.”