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Climate Change Treasure Hunt

An engaging, awareness-raising activity that can be used on school campuses and at nature centres and other sites.

by Chris Summerville T

HERE IS NO LONGER ANY DOUBT that the Earth is becoming warmer and that temperatures are likely to increase by between 2 and 5 degrees

Celsius by the end of this century. The consequences of such a temperature rise will affect millions of people from all parts of the world in a myriad of ways: flooding, droughts, increasing storms, famines, mass migrations, as well as bringing about a huge loss in biodiversity. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the extent of this threat, as unlike any other environmental problem we have faced before, climate change does not have a single remedy and knows no boundaries. Though it may already be too late to avoid its impacts, as educators we can still attempt to introduce students to many of the ways they can help slow down the process of global warming, and at the same time teach about the causes and possible impacts which are now almost inevitable. Even if the future environmental consequences of our daily life- styles are ominous, we can at least offer a sense of optimism and some degree of empowerment to our students by making the way they learn about climate change as creative and meaningful as possible. As an environmental educator, I am continually trying

to find creative ways to have students look again and again at the familiar in their lives, each time with a wider and deeper level of ecological awareness. In this way, students view with an ever-growing understanding of their environ-

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mental impact, more and more of the objects they use, or are surrounded by. Along with Hide-and-Seek, one of the most enjoyable

pastimes we can watch children engaged in (or engage in ourselves) is a treasure hunt. Both activities include one of the most gratifying sensations that people of all ages can experience: the excitement of discovery! These games also encourage participants to reconsider their surroundings as they seek out the best hidden places—the areas that people often don’t go, don’t look at or don’t even think about— because these very spots are often the perfect hiding places. Thus, a familiar area that we walk through, and live and study in every day is suddenly transformed into a landscape of surprise, excitement, bewilderment and discovery as each new clue is found! The ‘Climate Change Challenge,’ conducted in the form

of a treasure hunt, was the result of an attempt to relate this complex and often quite abstract issue to our daily life by placing it in the context of the places and objects we con- tinually see and use around the campus. As environmental teachers we know that, like most environmental problems we face, the causes of climate change are a direct result of humans pursuing activities that in and of themselves are considered quite normal and acceptable in society and do not appear directly to be causing such a huge problem: turning on a light, cooking, driving, throwing out the gar- bage, eating meat or non-organic food products and buying wooden furniture, for example. The purpose of this treasure


Photographs: Chris Summerville

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