“That could have been really dangerous! The scientists could have made a mistake and sent you back to Jurassic times, and you could have been eaten by a dinosaur!”
The student warning Manon Gartside was waving his finger in the air as he expressed his alarm. Manon is an Environmental educator in Vancouver with the Climate Change Showdown, one of the BCSEA’s signature projects, and she had just announced that scientists had sent them all 30 years into the future in a time machine.
In the future, they met their own selves as adults, who told them what they had been doing to create a future that is better than the present, where doing things sustainably is the normal way of doing things.
The storytelling provokes a lot of laughter, and many of the students aren’t entirely sure if the time machine is real or not. Some ask if they can go into the machine and look around. On one occasion Manon told them, “Well, you would have to get your parents to sign a permission slip for you” and a little girl turned to her neighbour saying, “My mother would never sign that, would yours?”
Thousands of Students Explore the Future
Every year, the BCSEA’s Climate Change Showdown environmental educators get the opportunity to interact with thousands of students. They aim to empower them to become Climate Change Super Heroes, using the workshop to get the kids’ imaginations going, and inspire them to change their everyday behaviour to reduce their carbon footprints in the contest that follows the workshop.
“We have a storytelling section during the workshop,” Manon says. “The story is visually rich with what the world could be like 30 years in the future, if we transformed our society so that it would be sustainable and resilient. The students participate in creating the world they want to live in, a world that has transitioned to non-carbon energy sources, where damaged ecosystems have been restored, and nature’s cycles have been rebalanced.
Students are also concerned about the people around them. Students sometimes ask if there were any homeless and hungry people in the future, because if there were, then that couldn’t be sustainable. “Everyone needs a home and enough to eat”, they say.
The students are very imaginative, coming up with all kinds of suggestions on how to reduce their energy consumption, from solar powered skateboards to using a hamster treadmill to power a battery operated TV. One very popular activity is the Earth Hour, when all the lights are switched off and a candlelit dinner is served. Another is having a family night playing outside, rather than playing video games or watching TV.
Andrea Mackintosh from the Okanagan recalls the moment she got to celebrate with the class that won the Climate Change Showdown contest:
“My best moment this year was giving out the prizes to the top class, and the top student in Nicole McAndrew's class at Watson Road Elementary, in Kelowna. The students were so excited that they had won! They had really gotten into the contest (they beat the other classes’ scores by a lot), and they all won Fortis backpacks filled with goodies and water bottles. The class itself won a prize of $100 towards a climate change action project of their choice.
“The winning class had students who placed 1st, 3rd, 6th and 7th overall in the whole of the Okanagan. The first place student, Cassie Rezka, won a Family Harvest Box from Urban Harvest, a family pass to the EnergyPlex, and a cape. She was soooo excited about the cape, and all the other students were jealous. So I told them they should make their own capes, and we got a picture together with our capes on. As I was leaving the classroom the class was just buzzing, and as they were getting ready to go do track and field for the day, Cassie came up to me and personally thanked me again for the prizes, and gave me a hug. It was so sweet!”
This year the Program did over 200 workshops in BC, and almost 5000 students were able to participate. We’re just tallying the final numbers, and we’ll soon know how many GHGs our students were able to reduce in BC. Stay tuned…