Physical education not only teaches students of all ages to become aware of climate change but pushes them to take action. This could be through a lesson relating to exercise or having the class participate in something more communal. Sports, PE classes, and even after-school programs rely on the environment, so it is significant that the rising issues in our world are brought to the attention of young athletes.

Examples of these issues include the installation of synthetic turfs which are not only harmful to the environment but to the players themselves. The false grass material can reach 180 degrees during the summer, melting shoes and producing heat stroke. If teachers and coaches continue to see a pattern in injuries, illnesses, and other negative outcomes due to climate change, this field will have no choice but to educate and strive to become more active for the future of sports. This link is connected to several articles about synthetic turf and its harmful properties (Heat Levels on Artificial Turf).

While it is important to teach about any topic related to climate change, including the students is what makes them learn. Something that could be done on-campus is allowing students to go outside and measure the temperature on the synthetic fields. This allows them to learn hands-on and shows them how harmful the material is. This lesson, with the inclusion of a video or a slide show, gives athletes the knowledge needed to protect themselves and possibly make changes for sports in the future.

Suzanne Horsley, a Pre-K through 5th grade wellness teacher in New Jersey has taught for over 25 years. She is passionate about the outdoors as well as giving kids the chance to learn about climate change. Throughout her career, she has created many lesson plans relating to the environment. Some include movement exercises for K-2nd grade, teaching them the first steps of the carbon cycle. Others range in higher grades, reviewing local air quality reports, and thinking about ways to help the ecosystem. All of this includes physical education and health while still making climate change the pinnacle of importance. New Jersey Climate Education.

Big Ideas

  • Learning through movement can teach students about air quality, global warming, and harmful materials such as synthetic turf.
  • Often, people learn by experience, so physical education could be the key to creating new generations of environmentalists.

Additional Resources for Physical Education