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ASPIRES Case Study 1: Climate Change (Year 8)


Promoting STEM Careers within Year 8 Climate Change Lessons

School: City of London School (A high-attaining independent boys’ school for students aged 10-18)

Type of lesson: Chemistry lesson

Overview: A series of lessons that promote environmentally friendly STEM careers and encourage students to consider what skills would be required to work in these jobs. These lessons support the study of Climate Change within the former Year 8 specification.

Teacher: Rebecca Norman (

Why did you do this?

CLS students had many misconceptions about what “stereotypical” scientists look like.  When questioned, students’ ideas of “scientific careers” were very limited.

Though this scheme of work I hoped to challenge the pre-existing perceptions of my students, help them make the connection between skills and career suitability and to widen their horizons in terms of scientific careers.

Summary of Activities

A series of activities that require students to use web based resources to explore the causes of climate change and to begin to consider a variety of environmental STEM careers. Opportunities are also provided for students to develop their ICT and presentation skills. Students liaise with a STEM ambassador to gain an understanding that scientists are “real people” too!

Lesson 1: What can I do to help prevent climate change?

Students explore the causes and effects of climate change before considering their own personal skills and applying those to “cool” green careers.

Lesson 2: How can we reduce our carbon footprint?

Students use two different carbon footprint calculators to work out their own personal footprint. They use the information they gained during completing these to create a presentation explaining how they could reduce their carbon footprint.

Lesson 3: What would you ask a Scientist?

Students see some scientists being interviewed and talking about themselves in a personal way. They are introduced to their own “green” scientist and design, as a class, ten questions to ask him.

See attached lesson plans.

Timing: 3 x 80 minute lessons

Materials: PC, projector, class set of laptops, class set of mini whiteboards.


External Links: See also attached PPTs and PDFs (linked from within lesson plans)

Student work: Questions sent to Ashley Bateson Student suggestions of how to reduce their carbon footprints

Learning and Other Outcomes/Evaluation

1. Appreciation of the variety of “cool”, green STEM careers available

 + Talking to all students while they explored the “Real Cool Futures” website, they were introduced to lots of jobs they hadn’t considered or even heard of before!

 - This was not, however, necessarily coupled with a desire to learn more about these careers.

2. Increased awareness of their own skills and interests

+ Students all completed the “Real Cool Futures” worksheet selecting their own skills and interests

- Students didn’t adhere to these search parameters when searching the “Real Cool Futures” website, and so couldn’t have fully grasped how they would relate to a career

3. Understanding that individual skills could influence career

+ Some students found that they were more interested in the jobs they found on the “Real Cool Futures” website using their own personal skills than the “random” search

-  Many students didn’t adhere to using their skills as search parameters when searching the “Real Cool Futures” website, and so couldn’t have fully grasped how they would relate to a career

4. Name some impacts of climate change

+ In class all students were able to describe at least one impact of climate change – they were very concerned about polar bears’ habitat!

- Given a very high ability, very few students went into much depth here

+ One student wrote an article for the school newspaper inspired by this work

5. Explain the concept of “carbon footprint” and how to reduce theirs

+ One student wrote an article for the school newspaper inspired by this work

6. Perceive scientists as “real people”

+ The questions the class chose to ask Ashley Bateson were broad and friendly – the sort of questions they would ask to a new student in their class, suggesting they didn’t see him as abnormal!

- There were lots of initial questions about science fiction, which may suggest certain stereotypes still prevail

Curriculum Links

11-14, QCA unit 9G, environmental chemistry

• Environmental problems – global warming

Integrating Careers Information into the Lessons

Lesson 1: Students spend a large proportion of the lesson searching for different “cool” green careers. This allows the teacher to ask probing questions, to encourage the students to think about why each career may or may not be suitable for them. Students are modelled how to engage with each career through the class focus on “Danny the solar panel engineer”.

Lesson 2: The focus of this lesson is on carbon footprints and strategies to reduce the impact modern society has on the environment. In this lesson it is important to highlight the many different careers which link into this important task, from oceanographers who monitor CO2 levels in the oceans to politicians who implement environmental policy. This can be done on a whole class basis, and in one to one discussions while students design their advice to others.

Lesson 3: Students get to know a series of Scientists as “real people”. In this case, students were interested to consider their own STEM ambassador Ashley Bateson, and explored learned more about his career working as a sustainable contractor. The career of the chosen STEM ambassador should be explained to the class on a level they can engage with.

Top Tips

This activity was completed with a very high ability group of students who had a good background scientific literacy. This should be considered if attempting this with a more mixed group.

Lesson 1: More guidance is needed to encourage students to consider how the “skills” used to search for jobs, related to their interest in the career. This should also be reinforced during the plenary activity where students were appraising their interest in “randomly selected” jobs. It should also be stressed to students that this is not a career finder tool like “Kudos”, but simply to allow them to gain a greater understanding of careers that exist!

Lesson 2: CLS students have very good ICT and presentation skills and didn’t require much guidance to complete and deliver a presentation. More support could be offered here.

Students LOVED calculating and comparing their carbon footprint, so more could be made of this in the lesson. Perhaps completing a class spreadsheet?

Lesson 3: Stephen Curry’s video is very long. In future I would show only snippets of this video.

Students were very excited to have their own STEM ambassador and enjoyed hearing some background information about Ashley Bateson. A video from the STEM ambassador would have made this even more personal.

With more resources students could record their questions with flip cameras and upload them to a YouTube channel.

Related documents

Zip Folder - ASPIRES Case Study 1: Climate Change (Year 8)


All the associated lesson plans, worksheets, pdfs, powerpoints (ppts) and links for this case study resource. This is a free ASE download.