Complex Science Made Accessible: the Fog Lifts from Climate Change

By Alex Nates-Perez

There is nothing simple about Climate Change. Not only does it involve complicated scientific concepts, but also the predicted ramifications of Climate Change are scary to think about. One local Chicago Museum has put together an exhibit aiming to explain Climate Change to families and, most importantly, children in an easy to digest and interactive way. The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum recently opened the doors to a new exhibit titled Weather to Climate: Our Changing World.

Climate and weather are often misunderstood to be the same. Weather to Climate, however, makes the distinction right from the start. While it can be hard to believe our climate is changing when recent winters in Chicago have been so cold, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s explanation is simple and elegant. The outfit you are wearing describes the weather. Your wardrobe describes climate. For example, people living in Chicago have outfits for hot weather, cold weather, and moderate. In places like Hawaii, by contrast, nobody owns a winter jacket. This shows that Chicago’s climate and Hawaii’s climate are very different even if both areas require shorts.

Concepts like adaptation, extinction, weather patters, and the polar vortex are made accessible in interactive, colorful ways. Children will be engaged and informed by hands on activities and games. Spin the wheel of fortune and find out how well a selection of animals could survive if their climate changed. Design a new species, look at artwork made for kids about climate change, learn through interactive videos, and much more. Whether kids are cooking up the perfect storm or learning how climate changes affects people and animals around the globe, Weather to Climate: Our Changing World makes learning like play time.

But don’t leave your child (or inner child) inside! Perhaps one of the most unique attributes about the museum is its dedication to the conservation of natural Midwestern habitats. The exterior of the museum pays homage to the prairie and grasslands of the Midwest before it was settled. There are delicate paths woven through a recreation of tall grasslands with native flowers in bloom. Pink, yellow, and purple blossoms speckle the green and brown stalks of native grasses swaying in the gentle breeze from the lake. I found myself wondering as if I were in a Zen garden. There is a butterfly garden with seating and a small pond for waterfowl and fly fishermen. All of the outdoor grounds are free and open to the public with informational kiosks at regular intervals so you know what you’re exploring. Free educational grounds and affordable admission to interior exhibits shows this neighborhood museum’s dedication to education. Interior exhibits include a walk through different biomes, a playhouse habitat, a butterfly adventure room, and much more.

Sophisticated topics are made simple for any confused or young audience member to understand inWeather to Climate: Our Changing World. All of a sudden, engaging in dialogue about our changing planet is more accessible than ever before. The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum provides an important service to the Chicago community by providing tools to understand the natural world. The exhibit runs through October 23rd.

Museum Address:
2430 N Cannon Dr, Chicago, IL 60614

Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday,10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

More information here.


2. Photography class from Marwen art school receiving a tour of the grounds. Marwen students will display their work at the Chicago Climate Festival.