Program Details:

Coproduction of Embodied Climate Curriculum Gains STEAM

Beth Osnes (Theatre), Carl Simpson (CU Museum of Natural History), Jim Hakala (CU Museum of Natural History), and Patrick Chandler (Environmental Studies PhD student) aim to pilot a coproduced curriculum with a diverse set of schools in Jefferson County focused on the embodied exploration of fossils, energy, and climate for 4th/5th grade students in Colorado.

This past year, the faculty, staff, and student involved in this project teamed up with administrative staff and teachers in the Jefferson County School District to coproduce and pilot the first draft of this new curriculum. This coming year we will pilot the curriculum with a broader and more diverse set of schools whose 4th and 5th grade teachers will implement lessons in the 2019/2020 school year in order to prepare for the district-wide rollout of the curriculum in 2020/2021. This will be done through a series of workshops co-facilitated by CU faculty, staff, graduate students, and teachers from Stober Elementary (our original pilot school). Additionally, the project team will work together to document and publish the framework used in the coproduction process as a template and distribute the curriculum through national networks such as the Climate Literacy and Energy Action Network (CLEAN of which Chandler is a fellow and Osnes is an active member). Our goal is to create an embodied, tactile experience for learners that enables hands-on experiences with real fossils, including trilobites, and enacting different geologic processes such as dramatizing the death of an ancient plant or animal and the processes that transformed them into a fossil fuel, fossil, or soil. We will accomplish this goal by publishing a curriculum tested in diverse classroom settings and establishing the framework through which that curriculum was designed. The project addresses all three campus strategic imperatives by teaching students new communication techniques, showing CU as a leader in innovative curriculum development, and combining art and science to help overcome communication barriers.

Benefiting from the lessons learned in our pilot phase, supported by a Community Impact Grant, this next phase will pilot the curriculum with four JeffCO schools, two of which will be schools with at least 50% of students in the free and reduced lunch program. After that phase, with those teachers and our partnering JeffCO administrative staff, we will finalize a curriculum perfectly timed to align with their introduction of new Colorado science standards being implemented in 2020/2021. Our objective is to have a classroom-tested curriculum for implementation in the JeffCO school district to help meet their “Generation” standards for 21st Century Learners. Generation standards seek to engage the whole student beyond mere content mastery to skills in cooperation, self-authorship, and problem solving - all of which our curriculum addresses through active learning with plenty of voice and choice for the student.

This is a private program by request only, or for a specific audience or group. For more information, please visit the program website.


In Colorado

  • Denver
  • Evergreen
  • Golden
  • Lakewood

Program Partners

Supporting This Program

  • CU Environmental Studies
  • CU Museum of Natural History
  • Department of Theatre & Dance
  • Inside the Greenhouse
  • Jeffco School District

Sponsoring Units

Arts & Sciences, College of

  • Environmental Studies Program
  • Theatre and Dance, Department of
  • Research Institutes & Centers

    • University of Colorado Museum of Natural History

    Program Contact

    Beth Osnes
    Associate Professor

Program Categories


  • Climate Change
  • Dance
  • Education (K-12)
  • Environmental Issues
  • Geology
  • Music
  • Natural Sciences
  • Physical Sciences
  • Theatre

Program Types:

  • Classroom Instruction
  • Lesson Plans/Teaching Resources


  • Students - Elementary School
  • Teachers - Elementary School

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