Teaching Urban Climate Change: Systems, Science & Stewardship – SCIE 7509N

STEMteachersNYC, City College of New York & Partners have a 9-credit microcredential for you!

A collaborative opportunity for NYC teachers to develop a local and global understanding of climate change within a coherent framework of systems thinking. Supported by hands-on experiences and student-centered pedagogy, coursework will be infused with real-world, data-rich, fieldwork experiences with local nonprofits, master teachers and climate scientists. Participants will emerge with immediately implementable tools and strategies, skills to tackle and integrate new topics, and the ongoing support of our community!

Strengthen your understanding. Enhance your teaching.

9-Credit Microcredential for Teachers in NYC

In early 2023 STEMteachersNYC and City College of New York began collaborating on and inviting partners to contribute to a nine credit microcredential to ground teachers in Climate Change, Systems Thinking and Sustainability content, pedagogy, and a range of vetted tools, lessons and units already in use across NYC schools. Coursework shall be application and practice-based, leveraging current events through the Ecology Disrupted curriculum, to help prepare teachers to be confident, knowledgeable, and equipped to not only teach about Climate Change, but create and respond to events and teaching contexts with appropriate resources and new material. Coursework will comprise:

Science Content – Systems and resilience focused course work; participating teachers will engage with scientists and researchers in the field, grade appropriate datasets, examining down and upstream networks of causes and effects.

Teaching Resources and Tools – Participants will engage directly with tool and curriculum developers.

Real, Vetted Teaching Connections –Will include student work, PBL strategies, real world examples – engage with colleagues already teaching about Climate Change in their classrooms.

In-person Fieldwork – Teachers and students will step into field research across the five boroughs, through the lens of local NYC nonprofit partners involved in climate science and education.


Course 1. Foundations: Climate as a System/The Urban Climate System 


Using data, hands-on experimentation, and digital models, participants acting as learners will construct a consensus on the foundational questions of; What is climate? How do we know the climate is changing? How do we know human produced greenhouse gasses are the cause? How do our social, technological, and economic systems interact with climate change? In answering these questions, participants will sharpen their tools for transdisciplinary and systems thinking. We will leverage NYC and ourselves as convergence points of climate and related systems and cycles, to study interconnectedness, cause & effect, feedback loops, Resilience, emergence, and scale.

Contributors include – Ecology Disrupted/Prof. Yael Wyner, AMNH Seminars on Science Climate Change Course, NYAS climate scientists, Urban Systems Lab/SETS, PRI & Historical ecology component from NYBG.

Course SCIE 7509N meetings take place on weekends (4.5hrs) and some Thursdays (2hrs), in-person at City College, The American Museum of Natural History and other partner locations in the city (with a few exceptions meeting over Zoom), for a total of 37.5hrs. Subject to change at the discretion of the course coordinator. Please reach out to [email protected] with any questions.
Module Title & DescriptionInstructor
1Ecology Disrupted: What is natural? Finding the hidden environmental stories in everyday news; analyzing newspaper articles for their hidden environmental connections. Connecting student daily life to sustainability. Prof. Yael Wyner, City College CUNY
2Introduction to Resilience & Systems ThinkingStudying a complex system of multiple positive and negative feedback loops of varying strengths, scales, and directions. Computer simulations and conflicting contentions; albedo, convection, common misconceptions. Investigate the story of a gallon of gasoline as an anchoring phenomenon, and dig into interdisciplinary models and resources on Climate Change.Glen Stuart, HS Environmental Science, Montgomery NJDon Haas, Paleontological Research Inst. NY
3Consolidating the Climate Science AMNH has a long history of conducting the research that shapes our understanding of climate change. This module will take us through the evolution of some of their work, as well as introduce teacher-developed climate units created through their Seminars on Science program. American Museum of Natural History (AMNH)
4Advanced Systems Thinking & the Social-Ecological-Technological Systems (SETS) lensThe Urban Systems Lab (USL)  generates and interprets climate data for New York City. It “provides information and analysis for developing more equitable, resilient, and sustainable cities. The USL’s work advances cutting-edge science, data visualization, and computation to develop systemic solutions…” Dig into the evolution of Resilience Theory, and learn how to break down a complex system into its parts and identify indicators and variables through the SETS lens. Examine the systems in our school neighborhoods using the SETS socio-ecological lens. Dr. Chris Kennedy of Urban Systems Lab at The New School
5Mid-term Projects
6Micro:Bits as Climate Sensors Pt1If we intend to impact climate change, all students need facility with the process of data collection to understand the problem and engineer creative solutions. Learn to use programmable sensors (Micro:Bit) to ask questions, define problems and engage in the science and engineering practices. We can democratize computing, so that diverse students can define the role of computational tools for their own (climate) contexts.Greg Benedis-Grab EdD, of ICS Schoolwide Labs, U. Colorado
7Micro:Bits as Climate Sensors Pt1
8Introduction to Data Tools: CODAP and Sage ModelerUnderstanding static and dynamic systems modeling and associated data with CODAP and SageModeler, free tools for making student systems thinking visible. Focus on Wildfires case study. We will engage with and analyze datasets in multiple ways simultaneously using CODAP, and dig into factors contributing to wildfires with SageModeler. Dan Damelin of Concord Consortium MA
9SageModeler+SETS continued. We will import the neighborhood SETS variables and data collected with our Micro:Bits into new templates, along with new data, to visualize change and impact over time in our dynamic neighborhood systems model. We will also learn to use the Ekos Game to model systems thinking, and unpack the US 5th Climate Assessment.Dan Damelin of Concord Consortium MAUrban Systems Lab instructor
10AMNH Pt2 – Global View Data ToolsIntroduction to Welikia Project VIsionMaker Mapping tool with Dr. Eric SandersonAmerican Museum of Natural History (AMNH)
11Historical Ecology at The New York Botanical GardenEnd of Term Projects New York Botanical Garden

Course 2. In the Field: Hands-on Climate Research


Teachers and students will step into field research across the five boroughs, through the lens of local NYC nonprofit partners involved in climate science and education. Each of our partners will serve as cases studies of systems and science unique to our city, and participants will engage in and with fieldwork and curriculum resources, engage in real world research, gain essential data analysis skills and learn to tell stories with real datasets, all toward building foundational knowledge and experiences to understand interconnected systems, causes, effects and the ongoing development of solutions and stewardship strategies.

Contributors include NYC Parks Office of Teaching and Learning and multiple field divisions across five boroughs, BBG (focus on phenology), EcoFlora, AMNH (additional on-site), and more.

Course 3. Putting It Into Practice: Climate in the Classroom 


In this course, K-12 teachers will translate their new-found understanding of climate systems and current research into explorations of classroom-tested materials that can be adapted for a variety of subjects and grade levels. Spanning K12 grades and aligned to NGSS and relevant Regents, possible modules include climate energy modeling, modeling the NYS watershed, climate data simulations and visualizations, community engagement, and climate activism. Teachers will iteratively develop, adapt, and implement climate lessons for their own classroom.

Contributors include STEMteachersNYC teacher-leaders, NYC teachers and tool developers where appropriate.


Participants will have the opportunity to develop or upgrade existing lesson plans, contribute to a shared archive, and implement new teaching tools and strategies in their classrooms. The program also provides the chance to collaborate with peers and contribute to a communal body of knowledge and resources.

Participate in the Change

Collaborators include BBG, AMNH, NYC Parks, NYAS, Urban Systems Lab, and YOU!

To make it relevant and useful to you and your students, we would like your input on content, structure and outputs. Please share your interest and feedback through the form below!

Start Your Application Process Here! DOE teachers may qualify for full tuition coverage.

1. Complete the interest form below!

2. We reach out to you directly; NYCPS teachers apply through our tuition eligibility portal (to be provided).

3. City College provides support with the non-degree application process.

4. STEMteachersNYC provides ongoing support for all coursework.