In order to understand how science instruction, and specifically instruction targeting environmental and climate change science, in K-5 classrooms can help form students into responsible and conscientious global citizens, I looked specifically at science education in K-5 curriculum. I explored how the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) currently include environmental education and climate change education and how the SOLs provide the potential for future climate change education. For comparison, and to understand how states other than Virginia value environmental science education in the elementary grades, I considered the current Oklahoma Academic Standards (OASs) for K-5 students. In this paper, I will present the opinions and research of experts in the field of science education, and I will share information I have compiled about instructional resources for teachers. I will also address how current standards in Virginia and Oklahoma invite environmental and climate science instruction in K-5 classrooms before presenting recommendations for teaching climate change science in elementary classrooms. Currently, state standards avoid explicit climate change themes and may limit the ability of educators to approach climate change in the classroom. When given autonomy over their own curriculum, educators can use science as an interdisciplinary subject in which students practice their reading, writing, and math skills as applied to a scientific theory, natural phenomenon, or scientific concept.

Paper prepared for the Environmental Studies Senior Seminar.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Allison Brenning

Document Type

Unpublished Paper

Publication Date