YESS (Youth Exploring Sea Level Rise Science)
The YESS project empowers young people to engage directly in climate change solutions in their own communities. Through an experiential education program that incorporates cutting-edge classroom curricula with hands-on science, high school students explore why sea level rise is happening and how their lives will be impacted. They collect their own data; create communications products; and contribute meaningfully to local science and policy decisions. YESS allows those who will be most impacted by climate change – young people – to have a voice on the issue and to spark a broader conversation about risk and resiliency.
We’re responding to climate change by using 21st century education practices to link youth directly with local governments, coordinated at a regional scale, at the precise time that long-term planning is taking place. During the 2015 – 2016 school year, we piloted the project with over 300 students in nine schools in the SF Bay Area counties of Marin and San Mateo (Redwood, Tamalpais, Novato, and Terra Linda MSEL in Marin). This California Coastal Voices article by educator Kurt Holland gives more background about YESS.
The program consists of three primary components:
1. Classroom learning. First, students work through an NGSS and Common Core aligned curriculum to understand the causes and potential impacts of sea level rise. The curriculum is flexible, and includes several options for hands-on experiments, games, and interactive activities.
2. Field investigations. Next, students collect real-world data about flood risk and potential impacts in their communities. Data can include King Tides photos of flooded areas for comparison with sea level rise projections, community interviews on public perceptions of flood vulnerability, and more.
3. Public presentations. Finally, students explore the data that they and their peers have collected, reflect on what they’ve learned and what sea level rise will mean to them; and construct final communications products based on their own interests. Some final projects that students are working on include: a Spanish-language video about sea level rise vulnerabilities in San Rafael; posters about sea level rise science for community events in East Palo Alto; and presentations to the Corte Madera Flood Control Board, San Rafael Climate Action Plan Group, and Marin County Board of Supervisors.
As part of the YESS project in 2015-16, students from Shore Up Marin and the Canal Welcome Center in San Rafael partnered with Marin County Community Development Agency and the Community Media Center of Marin to create videos in English and Spanish about sea level rise and youth leadership to address climate change. Students interviewed residents and business owners about flood risk in the Canal neighborhood, and spoke with elected officials about adaptation planning and ways to build more resilient communities. Join the conversation at www.marinslr.org.
Want to join us in connecting young people to science and policy? Here's how:
Students: Share this website with your science teacher, or contact us if you’re interested in an internship!
Teachers: We are piloting an NGSS and Common Core aligned curriculum in Bay Area high schools. The curriculum is well-suited to environmental science classes (APES, chemistry, Marine Biology, Earth Sciences) and has been integrated into Social Studies and Language Arts classes as well. Contact us if you’d like to participate in the pilot this year, or would like to review the curriculum for the 2016 – 2017 school year.
City officials: Students in the YESS program are collecting data and information that is useful to sea level rise vulnerability assessments, climate change adaptation plans, and public outreach initiatives. We are developing a toolkit for communities which will be available in June 2016. Contact us to explore ideas or get the toolkit when it becomes available.