This lesson outlines who flies most frequently and the health and climate impacts of aviation.
Step 1 - Inquire: Students learn how aviation is detrimental to human health and well-being.
Step 2 - Investigate: Students learn how aviation causes climate change, how aviation is unjust, and how “clean flying” does not exist at scale yet.
Step 3 - Inspire: Students explore personal stories of people giving up flying and reflect on that decision.
Accompanying Teaching Materials
Use this google slides presentation for this lesson.
How does aircraft noise affect humans?
Create groups of 3-4 students.
Students explore Aviation Noise Impacts: State of the Science.
If you prefer a shorter version of this paper, check out this “rewordified version” which only has the conclusions for each section.
Each group will look at one section of the paper:
Each group member will be responsible for writing notes for one of the following three questions:
What did the author think I already knew?
What surprised me?
What challenged, changed, or confirmed my thinking?
This paper pulls data from 70 different papers and pools it all in one place.
The paper can be tough to understand. It might be a stretch for some of the students, but collectively they can make some meaning from it.
The goal is for students to understand the detrimental effects of aviation noise.
Place students in groups of 3-4 and use the google slides presentation.
Have them explore the Stay Grounded website.
Students should read through the first three questions on that website:
What is the climate impact of aviation?
How bad is flying for your carbon footprint?
How unjust is flying?
These first three questions have two infographics each. Students will look at six infographics.
Students should write down noticings and wonderings with their group as they explore the data.
Groups share out with the rest of the class.
Create a Live Round Table Discussion using Parlay Ideas. Watch a 4.5-minute video on how to use Parlay. Just add the resources and guiding questions below and your round table is set. (Free for the first 12 roundtables)
During the Parlay Discussion, students will:
Explore different activist groups who are trying to reduce aviation.
Explore personal stories of people who are committed to staying grounded.
Explore the social power of non-flying.
Students discuss the following questions:
“Is it ethical to fly during the climate emergency?”
“Have you flown before?”
“Will you ever fly?”
“Will you continue to fly?”
“Has your perspective changed?”
Option 2Students explore the different resources above and write notes to the guided questions either in the google slide or their own notebooks. Teacher facilitates a discussion after they have had time to read and write on their own.
Flying is inherently unjust because few people have the means to travel by plane. Rich people can fly. Poor people can not fly. And marginalized communities pay the climate consequences first and worst.
“The commons” pays for aviation - children’s learning, sleep disturbance, health impacts, and climate and ecological breakdown. All of these are consequences from aviation.
How to approach this subject largely depends on the socioeconomic status of the students. There may be some classrooms where all students have flown in an airplane. Other classrooms will have no students who have flown in an airplane. It is important to be careful with language during the end of the lesson. Be sensitive to the situations of each of your students.
There may be some pushback if teaching this lesson to students from affluent families. Many humans have come to see flying as something that is normal, desirable, and natural.
Be mindful of the “But what about the economy?” question.
Response #1 to the economy question: Introduce Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics model, which takes into account human and social safety nets and limits on our biosphere. Item #2 in Raworth’s “Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist” embeds our economy in our biosphere, with all energy coming from the sun.
Response #2 to the economy question: Share Energy Impact Partners’s climate tech index, “...which is designed to track the performance of public companies primarily involved in providing technology that supports global decarbonization.”
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