It was Labor Day weekend when our air conditioner went out—nothing focuses the mind like the loss of air-conditioning when 100-degree weather is threatening, at least for me. We went into problem-solving mode immediately and stitched together a way to be immersed in air that was merely ninety-ish even while the outside thermometer flirted shamelessly with three digits (apologies for the Fahrenheit allusions; it has a certain dramatic edge over Celsius in this context, perhaps its only advantage). This was a victory in my mind, but it was not without some introspection. I do understand, at some level, how fortunate and privileged I am to be in a situation in which we could get things repaired with only a short time to endure the heat, and I also know that a few days of hot weather is not necessarily related to climate change more generally, and further, that my expectation to live in air-conditioned comfort for most of the summer folds in a certain irony that is not lost on me. So I must admit that I thought harder about the issues at hand this Labor Day than I have in the past. And, rarely have I been compelled to publicly express my gratitude to our rescuers, who got our place cooled down in a jiffy, but these guys were great—Thanks, Kenny and Dennis!
So now I can write to you in the comfort of air-conditioning to say that this month we feature seven more articles on teaching about the physics of climate change and sustainability, adding to the dozen or so articles from September’s double issue! Curricular innovations from a wide variety of settings are described, including high school classrooms, two-year college courses, smaller state colleges, and larger research universities. Elissa Levy, Abigail Daane, and Leslie Chamberlain lead the way by describing their experiences modifying the energy sequence to include topics related to climate change for students ranging from 9th graders to college students in the calculus-based introductory sequence. Next, Danielle Buggé and Elana Resnick relay details about their use of an Arctic-themed “escape room” lesson, operating within the Investigative Science Learning Environment (ISLE) classroom framework. Their students explore a process known as thermokarst and are challenged to seek possible explanations of this phenomenon. Danielle Schmitt and Robert Nazarian also present a gamified activity for students who do not have a background in the sciences, an activity in which the students explore the idea of global energy balance experimentally! Two other articles describe college physics courses open to students of all majors: a team from Brigham Young University tells about their new course in “Making the physics of energy and climate accessible to all” on page 580, and some of the impacts of the course on their students, while Sherry Savrda describes a course developed at Seminole State College to support a technical certificate in sustainability through an engineering technology program.
Rachel Scherr and colleagues, Trà Huỳnh, W. Tali Hairston, and Kara Gray, provide a framework for integrating energy and equity in high school physics instruction on page 606, a framework that provides guidance for those teachers who want to go beyond a “hidden figures” approach. Finally, Ethan Minot describes a course about climate modeling at Oregon State University that serves as a bridge to upper-division physics. There are a lot of inspiring tales in this collection, and I encourage you to consider how they might help to refresh your teaching and to remake your classroom, which I hope remains well below the three-digit temperature mark.