My favorite place to be is outdoors, and I mean that in a purposefully vague way. Whether I’m by the beach, hiking, or canoeing through alligator-laden swamps, I’m by far the happiest and most in my element. Heck, the reason I got into the field of climate education was because of how much I love the outdoors. Naturally, one of my favorite days every year is Earth Day—the one day when the rest of the world hops the nature nerd train and comes together to make the world a better, more sustainable place.

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Greenhouse gas emissions are expected to double in the next 20 years unless radical changes are made. As people argue over policies to address climate change and how to best educate the public about it, I actually work in a position where I can effect major change. Am I politician? A CEO of an energy company? A magic genie? No, I work with buildings. That’s right, your regular, boring, run-of-the-mill buildings.

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My ecology unit started in an unusually urgent manner—with a call to the doctor.

"911, this is an emergency! Let's get some vitals on the patient, stat!" Now we weren't in an emergency room, nor had any student collapsed. Instead, we were in my classroom, my students were the doctors, and the patient was planet Earth. For the next few weeks, my students set out on a journey to take the Earth’s vitals and diagnose our planet’s condition.   

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Eileen Hynes is a teacher at Lake and Park School in Seattle, Washington. She is a member of NCSE’s teacher advisory board, a National Geographic Teacher Fellow, and a NOAA Climate Steward. 

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On the first day of every school year, I ask my students to draw a scientist. After questioning looks and a round of giggles, the majority of them draw the well-known ‘Einstein’ figure, an older white male with crazy hair and eyeglasses.This figure will inevitably be drawn next to a table of smoking chemicals, and even if it’s just a stick figure, it becomes obvious that his scientific intentions are not necessarily for the good of humankind.

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