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Why schoolyards are a critical space for teaching about — and fighting — extreme heat and climate change


This story is a product of KQED MindShift, and has been republished by permission.

On hot days, fourth-grader Adriana Salas has observed that when the sun beats down on the pavement in her schoolyard it “turns foggy.” There are also days where the slide burns the back of her legs if she is wearing shorts or the monkey bars are too hot to touch. Salas is not the only student at Roosevelt Elementary in San Leandro to feel the effects of high temperatures on her schoolyard. Across the country, climbing temperatures have led schools to cancel classes and outdoor activities to protect students from the harmful effects of the heat.

Jenny Seydel, an environmental educator and founder of Green Schools National Network, encourages teachers to leverage students’ observations about their schools to make learning come alive. According to Seydel, when teachers use the school grounds as a way to learn about social issues, they’re using their school as a three-dimensional textbook. For example, schools’ energy and water conservation, architecture and lunches are rich with potential for project-based learning. “We can learn from…

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