If you’ve ever driven or walked down Constitution Avenue in Washington DC, you probably have seen the larger than life Albert Einstein sculpture lounging on a bench. But have you ever been in the building behind Einstein? That building is home to the National Academy of Sciences, a non-profit organization of the country’s leading scientists. Not only is it a place for the members to gather, but through the Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences, the site also hosts rotating art exhibits that explore the intersection of culture and science that are open to the public.
Diane Tuft’s The Arctic Melt: Images of a Disappearing Landscape is one such exhibit that is currently on display at the National Academy of Sciences. A recent Washington Post article describes her Arctic landscape photographs as vivid in color, yet also notes that, “these glimpses of an unfrozen North, some of them shot from an airplane or a helicopter, are also ominous. Discharged from glaciers, icebergs and ice sheets, that picturesque water is headed this way.”
Tuft’s Arctic Landscape exhibit will be the focal point of an upcoming family day that SEEC is leading at the National Academy of Sciences on February 10th. We are excited about facilitating this topic despite the fact that some might say the concept of global warming is too complex, depressing, and scary to explore with young children. After all, they are topics that can be difficult for adults to fully comprehend. So why create a family day around this exhibit and topic? While we do not expect to put a stop to global warming in just one day, we believe that exploring the Arctic landscape, climate change, and conservation with young children will foster a sense of environmentalism among the next generation.
During the family day, children will be able to explore the landscape of the Arctic through literacy, art, dramatic play, sensory experiences, and experimentation. By interacting with the Arctic environment, children will foster an understanding and love for the Arctic environment and those creatures living in it. Research has shown that the more time a child spends in nature or exploring a natural landscape, the more empathetic they are towards that habitat and its inhabitants. Developing this empathy for the natural world and its creatures leads to a strong interest in conservation that lasts through adulthood.
The family day will also feature an experiment that illustrates the consequences of climate change in the Arctic. Through the demonstration children will begin to form an understanding of climate change, and how it effects are world. While we want to educate children on climate change, we will also be focusing on conservation, so that children leave the family day feeling empowered to help make a positive change in the world. As Jane Goodall said, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” We aim for children to feel a sense of control that they too impact the world, and can make that impact positive. After exploring the Arctic habitat and learning about climate change, we will have an activity that encourages families to think together about what steps they can take, large or small, to positively impact our world.
Empower your young conservationists by coming to the National Academy of Sciences on February 10th! Get more information and register here!