Kitchen Klimate Science program at B-UHS teaches recipes for environmental science

BUCKHANNON — Science students at Buckhannon-Upshur High School spent Monday learning about how the choices they make impact their environment and the future of the planet.

Tom Rodd, director of the Allegheny Highlands Climate Change Impacts Initiative, donned his chef hat for this program called Kitchen Climate Science in the B-UHS Library.

The Allegheny Highlands Climate Change Impacts Initiative is a program from Friends of Blackwater, a longtime West Virginia conservation group working in the Allegheny Highlands. Dodd is also a board member of Friends of Blackwater.

“We started doing a program about four or five years ago on the impacts of climate change in the highlands, because there are a lot of sensitive species like Brooke trout and red spruce,” he said. “In parts of the highlands, the economy like the ski industry is very important.”

Friends of Blackwater has evolved into a regional conservation group.

“One of the things we learned is a lot of people don’t really have any understanding at all about what climate change is and is not and what global warming is and is not,” Dodd said. “We started doing programs and found various hands-on activities. We have presented at several science teacher conferences and we get invited to do programs by science teachers who are teaching earth sciences.

“We also work with the health sciences education program out of West Virginia University and they have after-school science clubs to encourage kids to go into scientific careers.”

For the Climate Change Impacts Initiative, Dodd said, “We don’t try to teach about politics. We just teach about what is going on in the atmosphere and why it is going on.”

The program touches on biology, chemistry and physics.

“We try to teach about the atmosphere and how human beings have changed the atmosphere and what is at stake if we don’t rein in or change our behavior,” Dodd said. “We hope they understand the atmosphere is a mixture of gases and we have to be very important about what they put in the atmosphere because there are the long-term effects.”

Students start studying earth science in eighth grade and the system is already geared up for them to learn about the atmosphere and the mixture of atmospheric gas.

“Most students are very concerned about climate change in my experience,” Dodd said. “Climate change is real. Global warming is real. What to do about it is a tough problem. The first thing in terms of figuring out what to do is to understand the problem. We are glad to contribute to that understanding.”

Funding for the initiative comes from a small grant from the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation.

Beatrice Burnside’s biology I and II classes attended the program held in the B-UHS library, and Burnside said she thought the information was beneficial for her students.

“His end result is to have the students understand they have the choice ­— that it is to this future generation to be responsible for caring for their earth,” she said.

The students are getting a precursor to a unit that Burnside will teach later in the semester.

“Thanks to Mrs. [Angie] Snyder-Westfall, who found him and orchestrated this program,” Burnside said. “A lot of good things are happening here in the library and she has been spearheading it all.”

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