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Your Environment. Your Health.

Climate Change and Human Health Lesson Plans

Educational Materials Overview

teacher standing in front of students, scorched earth, man and child looking at smokestacks, mosquito

NIEHS has developed Climate and Health learning modules for a variety of student audiences that explore the health impacts of climate change both in the United States and globally. Modules are suitable for use in high school and secondary school courses on earth, life, and environmental science, history, geography, health care or social studies classes. Modules are also available for medical school students and professional students in public health and health sciences.

The modules challenge students to consider the complex interactions between environmental health and human health and prompts students to take action to improve their communities and design interventions to enhance climate resilience. Students are challenged to think about disease prevention, such as how to eliminate breeding sites for mosquitoes and how vectors, and the health risks they present in their community, may change as the climate does.

In modules specifically created for clinical health care, medical and public health students apply knowledge gained from reports and clinical case studies to make connections to their own practice. Participants are then prompted to consider the co-benefits of climate mitigation and to identify and evaluate adaptation strategies that are protective of human health. To connect with the larger community of climate and health practice, participants are invited to explore regional or global data to understand existing climate adaptation and mitigation strategies and engage with regional efforts to implement interventions.

United States Students

These modules are intended to promote student discovery and learning about the complex interactions between climate change, the environment and human health, specific to the United States. Using content from the US Global Change Research Program’s 2016 report, The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment (CHA, 2016), students are prompted to describe the impacts of changing climatic conditions on human health with emphasis on vulnerable populations and apply systems thinking to create a visual model of the various health implications arising from climate change.

A Student Exploration of the Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States

Appropriate for grade levels 9-12 and 12+

K - 4 5 - 8 9 - 12 12 +

A Clinical Health Care Student Exploration of the Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States

This module is intended to engage clinical health students and practitioners on climate-health risks specific to patients and communities in the United States. The focus of this module is translating science to clinical practice.

K - 4 5 - 8 9 - 12 12 +

A Public Health Student Exploration of the Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States

This module is intended to engage public health undergraduate or graduate students and practitioners on climate-health risks specific to patients and communities in the United States. The focus of this module is translating science to public health practice.

Appropriate for public health undergraduate or graduate students and public health practitioners in the U.S.

K - 4 5 - 8 9 - 12 12 +

Resources for Teachers Using US National Climate Assessment Materials

International Students

These modules are intended to promote student discovery and learning about the complex interactions between climate change, the environment and human health around the world. Using content from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change participants are tasked with describing the impacts of changing climatic conditions on human health with emphasis on vulnerable populations and patients. Participants apply systems thinking to create a visual model of the various health implications arising from climate change, linking specific climate drivers to health impacts through evidence-based causal pathways.

A Student Exploration of the Global Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health

Appropriate for grade levels 9-12 and 12+

K - 4 5 - 8 9 - 12 12 +

A Clinical Health Care Student Exploration of the Global Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health

This module is intended to engage clinical health students and practitioners on climate-health risks specific to patients and communities in the United States. The focus of this module is translating science to clinical practice.

K - 4 5 - 8 9 - 12 12 +

Vector-borne Disease Module

Using content from international reports on the impacts of climate change on human health, students are prompted to describe the impacts of changing climatic conditions on vector-borne diseases relevant to human health with an emphasis on vulnerable populations. Students apply systems thinking to create a visual model of the various pathways through which changing climatic conditions affect vectors and in-turn impact human health. To provide a solution focus to the module, a culminating activity is offered that enables students to engage with local, regional, or national data to evaluate climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. Additionally, and, if desired, students may contribute to the GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper (GO MHM) program. GO MHM is an app for use by citizen and student scientists to locate, identify and count mosquito larvae, and eliminate breeding sites in their communities.

A Student Exploration of the Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health & Vector-borne Disease

Appropriate for grade levels 9-12 and 12+

K - 4 5 - 8 9 - 12 12 +

Alignment

These modules promote three dimensional learning as described in the National Research Council’s "A Framework for K-12 Science Education". The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) also informed module development with relevant Performance Expectations identified in the summary provided in the supplemental materials. When successfully completed, the module integrates multiple science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and cross cutting concepts for both earth and life science. It also addresses the essential principles of climate science as outlined in Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science.

Each module follows the 5E instructional model [Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate] to promote student discovery and learning about the complex interactions between climate change, the environment and human health.

The United States clinical student module is aligned with relevant standards and competencies described by the American Association of Graduate Medical Education, The American Osteopathic Association and the American Association of Medical Colleges.

The United States public health module is aligned with relevant standards and competencies as described by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health.

The International Clinical Care module is aligned with relevant educational guidance from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the World Health Organization.

Acknowledgements

The original version of the educational materials for United States high school students was prepared by Dana Brown Haine, MS, University of North Carolina, under temporary assignment to NIEHS through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Mobility Program. Additional versions for international, clinical and public health students were developed by Juliana Betbeze, Leann Kuehn, Betsy Galluzzo, Kimberly Hill, Cecilia Sorensen, and Mariana Surillo. Dr. Sorensen also provided the case studies accompanying the educational materials for graduate and professional students.

Disclaimer

These educational materials are the work product of an employee or group of employees of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), however, the statements, opinions or conclusions contained therein do not necessarily represent the statements, opinions or conclusions of the NIH, its component institutes and centers, or the United States government. The authors declare they have no actual or potential competing financial interests. These materials are in the public domain and may be used and adapted freely.

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