Are You Smarter Than a 10th Grader on Climate Change?

BY Rebecca Jacobson  May 3, 2012 at 3:49 PM EDT

Think you understand climate science better than the average American teen? On the PBS NewsHour this week we’ve been focusing on how climate change is taught in the classroom. But you can test your knowledge with this climate quiz:

The quiz is a sampling of questions from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, a group focused on assessing knowledge, understanding and belief in climate change. In 2011, the group conducted a national survey of American teenagers that focused on the science of climate change. They quizzed 517 American high school and middle school students and compared their answers to a previous survey of 1,513 adults to determine how well each group understood the subject.

The results: 25 percent of teens passed (grade of C or better) compared to 30 percent of adults. Teens knew less about coral bleaching or ocean acidification than adults, and they were more likely to answer “don’t know.” But in some areas, teens performed better than their adult counterparts:

  • 77% of teens understand that the greenhouse effect refers to gases in the atmosphere that trap heat, compared to 66% of adults.
  • 52% of teens understand that carbon dioxide traps heat from the Earth’s surface, compared to 45% of adults.
  • 71% of teens understand that carbon dioxide is produced by the burning of fossil fuels, compared to 67% of adults.

**How did you fare? Let us know in the comments or **

View the full report on American Teens’ Knowledge of Climate Change and American Knowledge of Climate Change to see the full range of questions, answers and analysis.

Check out our Live Chat on teaching climate change in the classroom.

If you’d like to share your story about teaching climate change in your classroom, or how you are seeing changes in climate where you live, you can do so via the Public Insight Network, which has partnered with the NewsHour for this project.