Climate change is affecting our planet, and if you’re a parent, at some point you’re going to have to talk with your kids about it. We know this can be an intimidating topic so, to lessen the anxiety, we’ve compiled some information on climate change for kids, how solar helps reduce it, and some easy science experiments for kids.
If you want even more easy science experiments for kids and to teach them about the power of solar energy, visit our “Solar Energy for Kids: Science, Activities & History” blog.
What is climate change and why is it important?
Let’s talk about the difference between weather and climate. When you look out your window and see that it’s snowing outside, that’s the weather! Weather is temporary. For example, if it rains where you live, chances are, it’s only going to rain for a few minutes or a few hours. It’s not going to rain for years and years – eventually, it will get sunny again!
Climate, however, is the typical weather of an area for a long period of time. For example, in Buffalo, New York, since the weather is snowy and chilly for most of the year, Buffalo is considered a cold climate. On the other hand, if you live somewhere like Florida where the weather is generally warm and sunny, the climate is considered hot.
To learn more about the difference between climate and weather, watch this crash course video:
But just like weather can change, so can climate. Earth’s climate has changed many times during its 4.5-billion-year history because of natural climate change – caused by factors such as volcanic eruptions and changes in the sun’s energy. However, scientists have also observed that the earth’s climate is warming up due to greenhouse gases caused by human beings.
Greenhouse gases (like carbon dioxide and methane) can be described as a blanket covering Earth that traps heat in the atmosphere and warms the planet. Because of human activities such as burning fossil fuels, cutting down trees, and creating trash, that blanket is making the earth hotter and hotter.
Here’s more information about climate change from a kid’s perspective:
What can you do about the climate crisis?
Helping combat climate change may feel like an undertaking beyond your control, but if we all pitch in and do our part, it will be much easier. This makes us all kind of like superheroes! Here are a few ways you, your friends, and family can help:
- Big problems like climate change require big action. So, we need everyone to be advocating for systemic change at the state and national levels! Write to your governor, your state legislators, and your national representatives. It’s easy to find how to contact them: usa.gov/elected-officials
- Research ways on how to be more sustainable with actions big and small.
- Follow the three R’s of the waste hierarchy: reduce, reuse, and recycle.
- Reduce: This is the first “R” for a reason – it’s the one that can have the biggest impact! To cut down on trash, try to reduce the amount of waste you create. Reconsider whether you really need something before purchasing new goods and consider how it’s packaged and what the material is made from.
- Reuse: Find ways to reuse items instead of throwing them away! Let’s say you use an entire roll of toilet paper. Instead of throwing away the cardboard roll at the end, use it as material for fun crafts.
- Recycle: If you don’t think you can reuse an item, before throwing it away, always check to see if you can recycle it! To practice your recycling skills, try out this recycle roundup game!
- Use clean energy resources, like solar, to create electricity! When we use solar energy to power our homes and buildings, we create clean, renewable electricity from the sun instead of burning fossil fuels. By using clean energy like solar, we can reduce our carbon footprint on the earth. When we cut back on our greenhouse gases, we have a much more !
Activities & easy science experiments for kids
Let’s put everything we learned into practice! Here are a few activities and easy science experiments for kids to take our learning to the next level.
Learn what a government representative is and how you can write them a letter! (I’m sure they’d love to get some artwork in the mail!)
Make a wind chime out of recycled items:
Create your own greenhouse gas effect experiment using simple household items:
Cook s’mores using solar energy by building a solar oven:
We Can Combat Climate Change Together
Climate change might seem like an intimidating topic to discuss and act on, but it’s an important one. The future of our home planet hangs in the balance and it’s up to us to do something about it. We love planet Earth and want to do everything we can to make it a better place!
For more advice on how to discuss climate change with your kids, NPR's Life Kit series has a great 20-minute podcast on the subject, “How to Talk to Kids About Climate Change.”