Two days ago, we woke to snow here in South Jersey. Spring had already arrived, and after a basically snowless winter, no one thought it would really happen even though meteorologists predicted it.

“This is a total waste of snow,” my 13-year-old observed as we were driving on wet roads on the way to school. “It won’t stick, we don’t get a snow day, and we won’t be able to go sledding. This whole winter was a waste.”

We talked a little bit about how it was odd that on March 25 we were getting the biggest snow of the year, and I commented that maybe we were going to have to get used to snow coming at unexpected times because of climate change. Although it did snow all day, it didn’t amount to anything because it was too warm out. In fact, there was more snow on the ground when my boys left for school than there was when they got home from school despite the fact that the white stuff came down all day.

What little my boys know about climate change, they know from me or their own reading, not from school. While I believe climate change is happening and I believe that humans have a hand in it, I don’t know much about the science behind it. So, I was glad to read on NPR that climate change education will be coming to classrooms. The sweeping changes that a report on climate change literacy recommends for K-12 classrooms are voluntary; schools will not have to implement them, but they should.

They should because it’s important science to know and understand. Older students who are capable of making decisions on what they buy and how they get from point A to point B will be able to make informed decisions. Younger students will begin to learn facts that will help them make choices in the future.

There’s something else good that could come out of climate change education in schools. Many students will pass the information they learn on to their parents, and some of them just may make changes because of it.

That 13-year-old who was complaining about the wasted winter the other day? When he was in second grade, he came to my husband and me and told us that there was something called global warming and we were causing it because we drove an SUV and the world would be ruined by the time he grew up and it was all our fault. He had read it in a kids’ encyclopedia he had been given.

When your 7-year-old makes a passionate argument like that, you take notice. At least when our 7-year-old did, we took notice, and it was the beginning of many minor and major changes that our family made in the name of environmentalism.

So bring on the climate change education in classrooms. Let’s educate our kids about the science behind it, and perhaps the kids will educate their parents who will chose to make a difference.

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Climate change education in new federal standards
Federal science standards coming later this month will recommend that public schools educate students about climate change.