Schooling Ourselves on Climate Change

By Tali Rosen

On Friday, September 20th, students at schools in New York City and around the world walked out of classes to take a stand against climate change. The Beacon School, in addition to supporting and facilitating the student walk out, dedicated itself to the fight against climate change by replacing the morning’s regular classes with guest speakers and our own Beacon staff teaching about climate change and global warming. Each student attended two of these workshops, each one lasting an hour, and then joined the rally at Foley Square and the march, or continued their afternoon at school. 

I was able to attend a lecture given by two guest speakers talking about sustainability, as well as a lesson about the chemistry behind global warming taught by Mr. Mott, a science teacher here at Beacon. 

The guest speaker lecture was held in the auditorium with students from all grades. Mr. Timothy Lewis, a biology teacher at Beacon, enthusiastically introduced the speakers, Mr. Peter Burger and Dr. Richard Perez. Mr. Burger is a senior associate and sustainability manager at an architecture and construction management firm, which overseas projects that focus on sustainability. One of his current projects is reenvisioning the Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey. Dr. Perez is senior research associate at the University of Albany. He works in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences and focuses on solar and renewable energy, and spends time spreading the word about their benefits. (For a video he helped create, click here:

In the workshop about chemistry regarding climate change, Mr. Mott showed a series of videos explaining the chemical processes that lead to the earth warming. He also handed out a puzzle where students had to arrange the steps of global warming in the correct sequence. Mr. Mott’s lesson, and the earlier lecture, were a great way to get a glimpse of a complex subject that affects us all, and a chance to meet some of the people trying to make a difference. Whether designing a major airport to meet new goals for sustainability, researching the use of solar panels or teaching chemistry at Beacon, it will take all of us working together to understand and change what is happening to our world.