When I heard about our Global Campus Creative Writing Challenge, write about a Climate Change Hero, I decided to search for a climate change hero that focused their efforts on the Arctic so that it was relevant to what my class had been learning.
Last Term, my Year Four class were learning about the Polar Regions. We studied the impacts of climate change on the Arctic Circle, and how this was affecting the animals that live there.
We became aware of the alarming rate with which ice is melting in the Arctic; we realized whole ecosystems are on the verge of being extinct. The Arctic is heating up three times faster than any other area on the planet.
Whilst checking for Covid-19 updates on the BBC one morning, I chanced upon an article about a woman named Leslie Field.
Leslie has invented a material that acts to preserve the Arctic ice, and slow down the effects of global warming. She distributes sand-grain-sized silica spheres (much like grains of sand) across large areas of ice, and these silica spheres have the ability to reflect the heat from the sun, so that the ice doesn’t absorb the heat and melt. Her invention could buy us valuable time to come up with more energy efficient ways to lower our production of greenhouse gasses.
So, I began to search for more information on Leslie Field. I discovered that she was an American inventor with 58 patents, that she struggled against adversity working in a profession that was dominated by men, that she had a passion for the arts and nature, and I thought, this is someone I need my students to know about.
So, we began planning and writing our biographies. Students also drew pictures of Leslie, and in Science, we began to learn about light and how it reflects off of different surfaces.
Some of the work that my students produced was of an exceptional standard, so I decided to contact Leslie Field and show her some of the work that my students produced. We were completely fame-struck when she wrote back to us, thanking us for our efforts.
My students then asked me if I could ask Leslie to join us for a video call. I immediately said, “Oh, she will be very busy!”, but one child in my class said, “Mrs. Maclang how will you know if you don’t try?” So, I sent Leslie an email, and to my surprise, she agreed to meet with my class virtually- all the way from California.
When Leslie joined the call, the class erupted into cheers! They were so excited to meet their climate change hero! Leslie greeted us all with a big smile, and shared her cat that was curled up with her on the sofa. She was so warm and friendly and easy to talk to that it was easy for the children to open up to her, and ask her the many, many questions that they had prepared. She explained that she had become an inventor because she loved to create things; she loved science and art, and invention was putting those two things together. She told us about the many different materials that she had tried, and failed to use to prevent the melting of the ice, and she explained to the children the importance of failure, and learning from your mistakes.[[\media\clip 1 your climate hero.mp4]]
One of my students asked Leslie if she would ever come to the Philippines because we have a very bad pollution problem here. Leslie explained that she had no plans to come here, but that she hoped we could find a solution to the problem. The student then asked if there was anything she, herself, could do to prevent the pollution problem, and Leslie said,
“When children speak, adults listen.”
She told everyone to talk to their parents, tell adults that global warming is a big issue and make them aware of the difficulties that you will have to face as an adult. Leslie explained that the reason she decided to design this material to help fight climate change is that she worried about the future of her own children.
After our call together, the students reflected on their learning with Leslie. One student commented,
As a teacher at Nord Anglia International School Manila, I want all of my students to reach for their dreams, to try new and difficult things. Our meeting with Leslie allowed my students to see firsthand how hard work, determination and resilience can make the world a better place.
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