Teaching Activities (Free)

Climate Change Mixer

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow.
A role play introduces students to 19 individuals around the world—each of whom is affected differently by climate change.

Time Periods: 21st Century
Themes: Climate Justice, Environment, World History/Global Studies

Through role play, the Climate Change Mixer introduces students to 19 individuals around the world—each of whom is affected differently by climate change. For some, climate change threatens to force them to leave their land. For others, it is a business opportunity. In this activity, students meet one another in character and learn about the impact of climate change in their lives—and how each is responding.

Climate Justice More Resources Ad | Zinn Education ProjectThe people featured include:

Larry Gibson, Mountaintop removal activist, Kayford Mountain, West Virginia

Roman Abramovich, Sibneft Oil Co., Russia

Wangari Maathai, Green Belt Movement, Kenya

Enele Sopoaga, Prime Minister, Tuvalu

Matthew Gilbert, Member of Gwich’in Tribe, Northern Alaska / Northwestern Canada

Chris Loken, Apple grower, Hudson Valley, New York

Stephanie Tunmore, Greenpeace climate campaigner

Yolanda del Carmen Marín, Coffee plantation worker, Sonsonate, El Salvador

Rafael Hernandez, Immigrant rights activist, The Desert Angels, U.S.-Mexico border

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Click to read teachers' experiences using this lesson

I assigned my 8th-grade science students to work in teams to create an essential question around one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and then to propose a solution to address their question. They needed to be able to identify various stakeholders and whose interest was being served by their solution.

Then, I collaborated with my school’s librarian to have the students engage in the Zinn Education Project’s Climate Change Mixer. The different experiences and perspectives of the individuals represented in the mixer activity really resonated with the students. They were highly engaged during the activity, and were able to identify new insights that they gained from their conversations while in the roles.

When they returned to the sustainability questions, the mixer activity helped students identify who is, and who is not, being considered and impacted in their projects’ solutions.

—Sally Meneely
Middle Science Teacher, San Francisco, California

Christin DePouw photo

As a teacher educator, I use the Climate Change mixer and the Young People’s Conference on Climate Change in order to support my students’ understanding of how colonialism, globalization, and climate change intersect today. The activities help my students, who are pre-service teachers, to connect science to social studies in meaningful ways and to teach in interdisciplinary and critical ways.

We often build on the two lessons by developing a TourBuilder narrative to emphasize narrative and geography, and have also included PBS’s interactive “The Last Generation.” This site provides a face to people like those under discussion in the Climate Change Mixer and also steps us into discussions of climate change displacement and immigration as well as other economic/political consequences that may seem unrelated.

Having access to these resources has been beneficial in a lot of ways and has greatly enhanced our teaching and learning in relation to climate change.

—Christin DePouw
College Social Studies Teacher Educator, Green Bay, Wisconsin

Climate Justice Tell Your Story Ad | Zinn Education Project

Lesson originally published by Rethinking Schools | Zinn Education ProjectThis lesson was originally published in the Rethinking Schools publication, A People’s Curriculum for the Earth: Teaching Climate Change and the Environmental Crisis.

A People’s Curriculum for the Earth offers dozens more lessons for teaching about climate change. Find additional resources for the classroom on the environment below.

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