Learning in lockdown - Using the COVID-19 crisis to teach children about food and climate change

A group led by The University of Manchester has described how it used the challenges of lockdown caused by the global covid-19 pandemic to continue to deliver important messages about climate change to young people.

In a paper published in Nutrition Bulletin, the group, Take a Bite Out of Climate Change, related how their previously successful outreach activities, which have been run at various science festivals around the UK, as well as used in workshops in India, Brazil and Myanmar, were adapted to cope with lockdown.

When the pandemic hit, the group had plans for a summer packed full of food and climate change education activities. Rather than lose these resources, the decision was taken to move delivery of the activities online, and the group worked hard to transform face-to-face materials into online teaching videos and activities.

The team developed free materials that were released each weekday in June 2020, with the main target audience being English speaking schoolchildren aged 7 to 14 years, along with school teachers and parents/carers.

Some of the issues addressed were

  • the power dynamics of children, diet and climate change;
  • mental health, diet and COVID‐19;
  • engaging the wider science, agriculture and food communities;
  • the food system, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) and diversity

Responses to the activities developed positively, with one Secondary School Biology teacher saying “The material you’ve provided is amazing and extremely thought provoking; it will make the students think!” Another KS2/3 Geography teacher added “love this! I'm organising an activity week at school and was using the countryside classroom resources and this links in perfectly especially for our older kids!”

Speaking on behalf of the group, Public engagement coordinator Dr Alana Kluczkovski said “We aimed to show not only the scientific community but also society that is possible to re-direct plans disrupted by a global pandemic and how to use fun activities to get people engaged and raise awareness of how our food choices can impact climate change.”

You can read more about the Take a Bite Out of Climate Change group at their website: https://www.takeabitecc.org/ which also contains many additional resources for teachers.

We aimed to show how to use fun activities to get people engaged and raise awareness of how our food choices can impact climate change
Public engagement coordinator Dr Alana Kluczkovski

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