Schools & Climate Transformation Project

MakeKnowledge invites your K-12 school to join this year’s Schools and Climate Transformation Project.

The Big Picture

There’s a lot of good curriculum out there that shows students what climate change is, but sometimes it’s hard for schools to put this knowledge into action. Sometimes we don’t acknowledge that our school communities have their own climate impacts. Sometimes, we launch good events that inadvertently become token efforts — like one-off Earth Day assemblies or “Bike to Work” weeks — that don’t move the needle, nor create year-over-year improvement.

The project MakeKnowledge has created helps schools own their own impacts, by designing sustained, collaborative action projects. Schools that participate make both ambitious climate goals, and steady year-over-year progress. Student agency is key to this project, as students are empowered to work with data about their own schools, and imagine and design improvements. At the same time, school staff, faculty, and leaders are not abdicating their roles in helping to make collective change. The Schools and Climate Transformation Project helps the entire school community to own the issues and make change.

A partial sample of one school’s results from the pilot year.

In our Schools and Climate Transformation Project, your school or district will receive tools to look at the climate impacts of school transportation. How do all students and adults get back and forth from campus each day, and what are the climate impacts of these trips? This includes not only school-owned buses, but all the ways staff and students get to and from school.

Example from one school of the carbon emissions from a single day’s commute to school.

The survey tools we provide will help surface and highlight areas for improvement, and translate abstract figures (average carbon emissions) into easier to understand ideas. The results your school receives will become a launchpad for design and action, and a baseline for future improvement. You’ll be helped in translating the results into collaborative action by the design and action toolkit sent to you. At the end of the year, we’ll provide you opportunities to share your work and wins.

In this example, the total miles driven in a given morning by all student/staff in one school is the same as one person driving from San Francisco to Maine!

History of the Project

In 2021-2022, MakeKnowledge worked with students from Stanford’s Management Science and Engineering program to prototype infographics and dashboards for the launch of our project. We worked with four Bay Area schools (both K-8 and K-12) in the full prototype of the survey, results, and recommendations. All of our learnings from that prototype year have been incorporated into the new materials and process.

Participating as a School or District

Participating in this project gets you all of the following:

  • Access to customized survey tools for your school community (all families and staff)
  • Customized reports and infographics from your survey results, showing your school’s baseline (and in subsequent years, your progress)
  • Our 30+ page guide to help your school community take action with your results.
  • Access to ideas and learnings from other schools.

The action guide includes:

  • Classroom activities by grade level (upper elementary, middle school, high school)
  • Action and communication guides for school leadership
  • Activities and resources for faculty and staff
  • Guidance about connecting climate action to career pathways
  • Many links to extending the work in climate mitigation, adaptation, and transformation
  • A new section on linking your school climate action with broader efforts and initiatives in your community and region
  • Pedagogy notes helping schools understand the relationships between climate anxiety and climate action; and the relationship to helping underrepresented students thrive in STEM pathways.

Join Us!

In 2024, we are focusing on school transportation. While we will maintain this work in future years, to allow you to track your school’s improvements, we also plan to add modules on food, campus energy, and waste.

The process for joining the Schools and Climate Transformation Project is straightforward. The first step is to fill our the participation form, which lets us know who will do what at your school. After that, we’ll send you an invoice for the first year’s participation fee. Once we receive your payment, we’ll send you the customized survey kit for your school. You’ll complete your school surveys in the following month, allowing plenty of time to design and launch climate actions based on your results. Approximately two weeks after your survey closes, you’ll get your customized results and the activity guide.

Your school data will be broken down in many ways to show possible paths for design and action.

Future Plans/ Development

This year, we continue to focus on school transportation. Our plan is to maintain the transportation module for future years, to allow you to track your school’s improvements, as we also add new modules (for instance, on food, campus energy, and waste.)