Teachers have a lot to cover in their classrooms, so many skim over climate change. But Sarah Ott, a middle-school science teacher in Dalton, Georgia, is committed to making time for it.

“Our students are begging us to talk about this,” she says. “They are begging us to address it, to see it, and to help them process and make sense of it.”

So Ott finds ways to make connections between climate change and the other material she’s teaching.

For example, a lesson about how heat affects water molecules can help students understand why warming temperatures cause more extreme rain.

Or a unit about how surfaces absorb and reflect light provides an opportunity to explain why the dark ocean absorbs more solar energy than white snow and ice – and why melting sea ice can accelerate global warming.

Ott says one goal is to prepare students to critically evaluate what they see on the news and in social media, so they can better identify misinformation.

“Our students need that scientific literacy to be able to say, ‘I know that’s not true. I know that’s not accurate,'” she says, “and to be able to read media articles with a healthy level of skepticism as well as a critical eye.”

Reporting credit: Diana Madson and Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.