How To Talk To Kids About CleanTech

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We need to talk to kids openly and honestly about cleantech, as it’s our responsibility to help them understand how together, we can make a difference in the future of our planet through their use of zero emissions devices and equipment. 

talk to kids
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Kids might hear the term “cleantech” and think exclusively about wind or solar. But there are many other approaches to cleantech than that. Cleantech includes clean energy and what’s called variously sustainable, environmental, or green products and services. Cleantech investments and solutions focus on areas like water purification, eco-efficient production techniques, renewable energy, green technology, and sustainable business… and so much more!

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Let’s check out some ideas that capture concepts to engage young folks with the topic of cleantech in positive and affirmative ways.

Inspired by the NRDC

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  • Inspire wonder in concepts like greenhouse gases and ocean acidification.
  • Point out environmental changes — seasons, migrations, and births.
  • Teach sharing, including the Earth’s resources. Demonstrate how our actions affect others — connections — natural resources that get depleted.
  • Remind kids that the cleantech revolution is already underway. We have offshore wind turbines in Rhode Island, electric car chargers in public garages, solar panels in neighborhoods, home efficiency tech and apps.
  • Explain the science behind cleantech. How does the carbon cycle work? What does it mean to have zero emissions? How do cleantech devices and equipment create zero emissions?
  • Discuss the power of personal action. Give examples like biking, carpooling, energy-efficient LEDs, composting, eliminating single-use items.
  • Cleantech offers solutions to the climate crisis. Reassure kids that cleantech solutions can help us to avoid the worst climate impacts.
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Inspired by NPR

  • Watch a film together that shows the power of cleantech in action. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is great for all ages and demonstrates how determination, resilience, and strategic thinking can produce results in cleantech — even for kids.
  • Identify civic engagement opportunities. Earth Day celebrations are a start. Attend an EV demonstration day. Join in a solar car competition. Build a mini-wind turbine.
  • Share dreams of sustainable living and cities. Point out how low/ no traffic, neighborhood shops and recreation, and pride in energy reduction can lead to more social justice, stronger communities, and better health.

Inspired by National Geographic

  • List items that need power to work: cars, lights, refrigerators, heat, AC, personal technology devices, etc. Then discuss that most power comes from burning coal, natural gas, and oil, all of which release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
  • Define climate together. Identify typical weather conditions in a certain month. Extend it to describe expectiona for daily living during these moths. Climate change messes up the Earth’s rhythms, with shifts in farming, wildfires, flooding, and storms.
  • Challenge kids to find 10 ways to use less power every day.

Inspired by Mashable

  • Lay the foundation for appreciation of the natural world. Visit a wildlife center or natural history museum. Walk in a state park. Introduce children to natural habitats like tidal creeks, forest/ wetland area, native plants and species.
  • Read the e-book from The Climate Reality Project together.
  • Focus on skills and solutions. Choose local produce together at a farmers’ market or your grocer. Walk short distances rather than drive. Take public transportation. Keep daily temperature charts and compare the same dates  to 5, 10, or 20 years ago. Study electricity — what is a kW and why do I need to know this?
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Inspired by the Rainforest Alliance

  • Listen to a podcast together about climate science.
  • Model with a houseplant how plants “breathe in” gases we breathe out, and vice versa.
  • Plan a fun game to become a carbon atom and journey through the carbon cycle.
  • Do inquiry together about everyday life and cleantech. Where does water come from, and where does it go when it circles down the drain? How do water filtration assistants work, and why do some people need them when others don’t? How does an ICE word? How is an EV different? How did the Industrial Revolution change the way people in the world used energy, and how did fossil fuels change the balance of carbon sources (processes that release carbon into the atmosphere) and sinks (processes that capture carbon out of the atmosphere)?

From our own CleanTechnica archives:

  • Show the kids the Zeltini Z-Triton — part electric tricycle, part camper, and part boat. Think of it as an AmphiCar for environmentalists that comes complete with its own green roof.
  • Help the little ones to learn about ways that whole neighborhoods are engaging in community solar.
  • Tell them about the teenager, Greta Thunberg, who’s winning awards around the world for speaking up about the need to move to a zero emissions planet.
  • Talk about the various cleantech innovators that are gaining attention and funding for their ideas. Who knows? Your child could be next.

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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavey Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a 2022 Tesla Model Y as well as a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Substack:

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