Carbon Game 2020

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Climate education in the time of COVID-19

Just before the coronavirus stay-at-home guidelines, we started a Carbon Game program at Bethany Elementary School in Beaverton, Oregon with 16 student families. The program teaches students and their families about climate change and the important task of measuring and decreasing carbon emissions.

Carbon emissions and Coronavirus

What made this Carbon Game experience so unique is that the students added up their families’ household carbon emissions for the month of February 2020 and then the stay-at-home guidelines took place. The parents and students had the brilliant idea to add up their carbon emissions again for another 30 days in March while under the stay-at-home guidelines.

A game changer

The results were very interesting! The carbon footprint of the same family households was 51% less in March. This was due to less driving and no air travel by family members. Car miles decreased by 63%. Electricity use was 20% higher since people were at home more.

Compare and contrast

We put together a slide presentation comparing the two months of carbon data from their households and brought the students together again via Zoom. The 4th graders had quite the reaction. Karissa, age 10, said “If only that could be what happened all the time. Even some experts expected that carbon use would drop by about 20 percent, but we did much better than that, so it’s really cool.” Amy Higgs, Executive Director of the Eco-School Network said, “This Carbon Game became an eye-opening way for students to understand their direct impact on the climate crisis and learn just how to start reducing their emissions.”

Tree planting and carbon mitigation

Another student had an idea for some carbon mitigation, “We’ve done tree planting days before and maybe we can do more of those! And we get to see our friends while we work!" This was quite a moment in time to compare a normal month to the stay-at-home month. Thank you to the Bethany Green Team for this opportunity!

Educating the next generation

Community Friends believes that educating the next generation about CO2 concentrations, conservation and mitigation is one of the greatest impacts we can have in our work. Thousands of students in four countries have participated in the Carbon Game. If you or a teacher you know would like to offer the Carbon Game to students, please contact us.