Green Day in Chi-Town: Museum Teaches Kids About Climate Change

By Morgan McFall-Johnsen

How do we talk with kids about climate change? “Honey, the entire planet is at risk of being destroyed because of the gas we put into the air.” Not the easiest thing to grasp, or swallow.


The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s new exhibit, “Weather to Climate: Our Changing World” is the first in a series of three climate change exhibits seeking to break down the complexities of climate. This first exhibit focuses on the difference between weather and climate, how climate affects weather, and the implications of climate change on daily life.


“Whenever we have these spikes of extreme weather, to us it actually seems to be an occasional nuisance, an annoyance. If you’re a child, maybe you experience a lot of wonder at a lot of snow or excessive rainfall,” says Alvaro Ramos, the Vice President and Curator of Museum Experience at Peggy Notebaert. “But these are aspects of climate change that we’re experiencing on a day-to-day basis. So we’re trying to tell this big story of climate change from a little perspective.”


Ramos says that the ultimate goal is not only to explain climate change to visitors and make them aware of what’s happening, but hopefully to also convince them to change some of their behavior for a better future.


“There are plenty of other organizations that have produced exhibits on climate change, but generally speaking, a lot of those exhibits take their perspective from this very global, very big-picture, high-level perspective that makes it very hard to understand the human aspects,” Ramos says. “As a result you become disassociated with a lot of potentially negative impacts.”

With this first exhibit, the museum chose to focus on weather because everyone experiences it directly. The second exhibit will focus on the built environment, and the third will be about the effects of climate change on urban communities.

The exhibit will run through October 23.

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