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Santosh Zachariah

Unit development to study drivers of the greenhouse effect

2016 Stem Scholar
Shoreline, WA The Evergreen School

Santosh’s Big Idea: Santosh developed an 8- to-10-week project-based learning unit that culminates in a day-long, 8th-grade-organized, campus wide event to a) showcase the students’ understanding of the factors that drive the earth’s temperature and b) educate the community.

Each of the multiple events during the day represented a team’s choice of the format in which they wish to educate a section of the community. The choice of the format and audience of the final product allowed all students to choose things that are meaningful to them. Santosh prepared his students to be effective teachers of climate change within their local communities.

The curricular goal of the unit was to understand the mechanism and drivers of the greenhouse effect. Students were assessed based on how well they taught what they had learned over the course of the unit.

Interesting facts:  “It took five years of teaching before I felt ready to tackle Climate Change in my 8th grade science curriculum.”

In his own words: "When I was considering becoming a teacher eight years ago, I was torn between teaching and working for a nonprofit on Climate Change. A close friend cut the Gordian knot by asking why I could not do both."
On being a 2016 STEM Scholar: “For many things I have done since Scholar Week at WKU, I ask WWRD – What Would Rico Do? It’s ‘how does this make the experience of a physical phenomenon more real to students?’ And with the Scholars group, it’s a place where I can keep asking everyone that question. It’s been a really good professional learning community in which to keep bouncing these ideas. There was something that happened at dinner on that first Scholar day. Everyone seemed to have decided that this was their tribe, that ‘they get me’ – and by dessert there was that trust that relationships are built on so when we began that first session we were already ten people who were a well-bonded class. What the Scholar program means to me is being part of a group of people who I feel very comfortable with. It’s a group of people where you can be honest about what you find difficult and what mistakes you make.”