History of ocean and climate action

Lesson Overview

This lesson explores the history of ocean and climate science, policy, and activism and explores their connections and relevance through a timeline activity. Students will learn about key scientific milestones, the evolution of international policy, and the actions we can take to protect the ocean and mitigate climate change. Students will create a timeline showing how ocean-climate science discoveries have influenced policy changes and sparked activism, emphasising interconnections and success stories.

Learning Objectives
  • Identify key scientific discoveries related to ocean-climate systems
  • Understand how these discoveries have influenced policy decisions
  • Recognize the role of ocean-climate focused activism in driving change
  • Appreciate success stories in ocean-climate action
Lesson steps

1. Introduction and elicitation (10 minutes)

Use slide 2 to introduce the learning objectives for the lesson. Explain that our awareness of the ocean's importance and vulnerability has evolved over time, largely due to our historical unfamiliarity with the marine environment. Use slides 4 to 7 to provide a brief overview of how our understanding of ocean-climate systems has developed over time, from early oceanographic expeditions to modern satellite observations. Then discuss the relationship between science and policy and public awareness and action using the discussion questions on slide 8.

2. Timeline creation (30 minutes)

Divide the class into groups. Explain that each group will create a timeline with three parallel ocean and climate themes: science, policy, and activism. Use the information on slide 10 and Student Sheet Ocean & Climate timeline activity to support the briefing.

Provide each group with a set of cards containing the events listed on slides 11 to 13. Depending on the ability of the class, run through the key events listed on the slides and represented in more detail on the timeline cards as a class, or allow students to work through this information in groups.

Instructions for students on slide 14 and the Student Sheet:

  • Place the events on the timeline in chronological order.
  • Draw arrows to show connections between events across the tracks.
  • Discuss how scientific discoveries influenced policy decisions and sparked activism, and vice versa.
  • Present your timeline, highlighting: two key connections and one success story and its impact
  • Identify success stories and their impacts.

3. Group presentations (15 minutes)

Each group briefly presents their timeline, highlighting:

  • Two key connections they identified between the tracks
  • One success story and its impact

4. Reflection and conclusion (5 minutes)

Lead a brief class discussion using slide 17:

  • How have science, policy, and activism worked together to address ocean-climate issues?
  • What can we learn from past successes to address current challenges?
  • What role can we play in ongoing ocean-climate protection efforts?

Home learning

Research a current ocean-climate success story not mentioned in class. Explain its significance and how it connects to events on the timeline.