EO-06. Creating Authentic Opportunities for Students to Engage with their Community to Build Resilience to Environmental Hazards in Rural Colorado

Environmental hazards such as wildfire, flood, and drought impact communities throughout Colorado. As climate change ramps up, these environmental hazards are increasing in frequency and severity. These hazards and their impacts provide an excellent access point for students to explore earth science concepts and community well being. The Hazard Education Awareness and Resilience Task Force (HEART Force) is a program for secondary classrooms in rural Colorado designed to help teachers and students move beyond classroom instruction and empower them to lead local efforts to increase resilience to environmental hazards. Colorado has recently adapted and adopted NGSS which provide opportunities for students to engage in real world learning through exploring locally relevant phenomena, yet many classroom teachers are challenged to transition to a new style of teaching driven by student inquiry. With this transition, teachers are being asked to give up some control of the learning process and become facilitators rather than directors of learning. In order to successfully facilitate authentic student engagement, a network of community partners is essential to support students, as well as a supportive school administration and a high level of teacher comfort with risk and uncertainty. The HEART Force program is in the fourth year of implementation; here we share lessons learned and challenges in supporting teachers in this transition to student-led and community-based learning using resilience education.