Burien TEC Students’ Work May Impact Global Policy on Climate Change

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The Highline School District is reporting that students at Burien’s Technology, Engineering, and Communications High School (TEC) got the attention of national policy advisors when they gave feedback on an important document about research into climate change.

Comments prepared by Dr. Michael Town’s class at TEC featured prominently in feedback on the policy document. Dr. Town was approached to review the document due to his work as a researcher in polar climate change prior to entering the teaching profession.

The students reviewed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Summary for Policy Makers, which brings together current research, and is used by decision-makers at local, regional, national, and international levels in business and government as they consider changes to policies related to climate change.

The students concluded that the report, as initially drafted, would not be understood by readers who are not experts in climate science. They cited the extensive use of technical scientific jargon, lack of clear explanation of climate science concepts, and graphs that were difficult to understand.

“The review had an impact in Washington, D.C.,” said Town. “The manager of the U.S. review committee said that our review was one of the top 5 or 10 out of the 3,000 comments submitted.”

The comments made by Dr. Town’s students were so important that the concepts are featured in the state’s feedback to the report authors. The feedback reads, in part, “As written, the SPM is not accessible to a policymaker or general population audience.”

“Being a small class of teenage high school students, reviewing the IPCC document was something I thought we could never pull off,” said TEC student Michelle. “And even when we did finish reviewing the document, I didn’t expect it to make any impact on the final report because of the number of different people from all over the world who also reviewed it. I was really surprised, but happy, we made it so far. This is definitely going on my resume.”

“I am so proud of the work my students did,” said Town. “They could have felt defeated by their initial inability to understand the document, but they persisted. The IPCC SPM will be more readable for everyone because of the efforts of these students.”

The research report will be published later in 2013 by IPCC, the same organization that shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore in 2007.

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3 Responses to “Burien TEC Students’ Work May Impact Global Policy on Climate Change”
  1. Coverofnight says:

    Interesting that the students had to “dumb down” the report so the decision-makers could understand it.

    Now, if they would only distance themselves from Al Gordo and the IPCC with this man-made global warming nonsense and stop any further regulation. The only man-made crisis is the global warming scam created to further enrich the political elite.

    Drill, baby, drill!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Congrats! What a great opportunity for these students.

  3. Shari says:

    So first off, huge, huge thanks to Dr. Town for always being on the lookout for ways to get his students engaged in real-world issues in ways that increase their critical thinking in general and subject matter knowledge in specific, and that increase their ability to communicate and apply what they’ve learned. In so doing, those behaviors and skills become habitual, making those kids better students and better future employees, voters, and community members. We all benefit from that one way or the other. Dr. Town could have just reviewed the report on his own…but he reached out and got the students involved. Tons more work for him, but a huge payoff both in the short- and long-term around everything that goes along with real learning and civic engagement.

    Second, I especially love the specific focus on translating technical scientific findings and arcane policy issues into clear, accessible language that policy makers and the general public can understand and apply. That’s always the missing link–the bridge between esoteric academic publications that reach a limited audience of academics and the real world that supposedly could apply and benefit from the findings. So the specific nature of this student project is of particular value to me. Very impressed. So, so glad to hear this is happening and I do hope Dr. Town serves as a model for other educators,helping them recognize and seize opportunities to engage their kids in real world stuff as it’s happening in ways that accelerate and deepen their learning, position them for jobs and civic engagement, and benefit the community at large.

    I also happen to deeply appreciate the specific subject matter here and any efforts made on behalf of addressing this escalating crisis. I am not, however, wanting to detract from my huge praise for Dr. Town’s approach to student engagement and deep learning.

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