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Fight light pollution by embracing the dark


CC-BY, provided by the author

In today’s fast-paced world, where cities glow brightly even during the night, the concept of a dark sky filled with twinkling stars seems like a distant memory. Light pollution, the excessive and misdirected artificial lighting that obscures our view of the stars, has become a global concern. However, by educating and inspiring the younger generation, we can foster a love for dark skies and empower children to take action against light pollution.

The first step in encouraging children to embrace dark skies is to raise awareness about light pollution and its consequences. It is important to explain to them how artificial lighting affects the natural world, disrupts ecosystems, and hampers our ability to enjoy the beauty of the night sky. Engaging them in discussions about the value of preserving darkness as a natural resource and the impact it has on human health, wildlife, and astronomical research and encouraging them to ask questions and think critically about the issue are all important steps.

Light pollution is a pervasive issue that affects our environment on some many levels. Educating pupils about light pollution and its consequences can help raise awareness and encourage responsible lighting practices. An effective way to engage pupils in learning about light pollution is by using light sensors. These devices enable pupils to measure and analyse the levels of light pollution in their surroundings, fostering a hands-on and experiential learning experience.

Through several practical workshops I taught my fifth-grade students the importance of embracing dark skies. Together we researched practical ways to engage in the fight against light pollution.

CC-BY, provided by the author

Step 1: Introducing the concept of light pollution.

The initial workshop I held began by explaining to pupils what light pollution is and how it affects our environment and our health. We discussed the sources of light pollution, such as streetlights, buildings, and excessive outdoor lighting. For homework I asked them to take photos of the streetlights in their neighbourhood. These visual aids, images, and real-life examples helped us continue our discussion and research of the impact of light pollution on wildlife, ecosystems, human health, and the visibility of stars.

Step 2: Lux meters

The next step was introducing my pupils to light sensors and explaining how they work. We were lucky to have lux meters in school, so I explained how these devices measure the intensity of light. We discussed the importance of accurate measurements and how light sensors can help quantify light pollution levels in different areas.

In pairs, armed with their light sensors and a worksheet I prepared earlier, they conducted light pollution measurements in school. I chose various locations in school and instructed them to measure reading of light at different times.

CC-BY, provided by the author

Step 3: Brainstorming

After every investigation it is necessary to reflect and discuss solutions. I asked them to brainstorm ideas on how to mitigate light pollution in their school, neighbourhood, or community. Encouraging critical thinking and creativity in their ideas is key. We also discussed the importance of responsible lighting practices and their positive impact on the environment and quality of life.

Step 4: Dissemination

They extended their learning beyond the classroom by sharing their findings. This in turn raises more awareness about light pollution. The pupils created posters and presentations to inform their peers about the impact of light pollution and the importance of responsible lighting. Pupils can also collaborate with local authorities, community organizations, or environmental groups to advocate for better lighting regulations in their area.

Using light sensors to teach pupils about light pollution provides a practical and engaging approach to learning. By conducting light pollution measurements, analysing data, and discussing solutions, pupils develop a deeper understanding of the issue and become advocates for responsible lighting practices. This hands-on experience empowers pupils to take action, raise awareness, and contribute to the preservation of dark skies and a sustainable environment. By equipping pupils with knowledge and tools, we inspire them to become agents of change in their communities, fostering a brighter future with less light pollution.

It is so important to teach children about responsible outdoor lighting and the principles of night-friendly lighting design. Encourage them to assess the lighting in their homes, schools, and neighbourhoods. Help them understand the concept of shielding lights to direct illumination downward and minimize light trespass. Engage them in discussions about using energy-efficient bulbs, motion sensors, and timers to reduce unnecessary light pollution. Motivate them to propose solutions to local authorities or participate in initiatives to promote responsible lighting practices.

CC-BY, provided by the author

Empower children to become advocates for dark skies within their communities. Inspire them to share their knowledge about light pollution with friends, family, and classmates. Help them organize awareness campaigns, presentations, or workshops to educate others about the importance of preserving dark skies.

By teaching children to embrace dark skies and fight light pollution, we are nurturing a generation of environmentally conscious and scientifically curious individuals. By raising awareness, engaging in stargazing adventures, participating in citizen science projects, promoting responsible lighting practices, and advocating for change, children can actively contribute to the preservation of our natural heritage. Together, we can empower children to look up at the night sky in awe, appreciate its beauty, and take action to protect it for generations to come. Let us inspire them to become ambassadors of dark skies and make a meaningful impact on our planet’s future.

Anita Simac has been a Scientix ambassador for Croatia since 2016. She is a mathematics teacher in a primary and lower secondary school on the Adriatic sea. Through interdisciplinary projects she motivates and inspires her students to learn through creativity and collaboration. She is passionate about saving the planet and inspiring her students to be agents of change.

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