Ringing in the New Year by fighting climate change

Last year was a big year for the climate change discussion around world, but a new generation are expecting their science teachers and their teachings to create a greener future.

No better way to enter 2020 and honor those science teachers than have them hit the crystal button that would drop the Times Square New Years ball.

Bronx Latin School science teacher Aida Rosenbaum, recent recipient of the 11th annual Sloan Award for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics, was one of two NYC teachers to win the award and have the chance to share hitting the prestigious button with a select few students.

“It was absolutely surreal, still feels like it didn’t happen,” Rosenbaum said. “I received the Sloan award and a couple days later I got the call from the Times Square Alliance asking me to push the button.”

Rosenbaum along with two of her students, 17-year-old juniors, Ven Ulloa and Daniel Soto, were invited for the work and advocacy done in the fight against climate change. She added it was extremely tough to pick only two students out of her current 65 who have all contributed in the cause.

Both students said the ball drop was a once in a lifetime experience that they would never forget.

“It was amazing, I’ve never experienced anything like that, it was humbling,” Ulloa said.

Rosenbaum and her students participated in the Walk for Water as well as attended the recent worldwide Climate March.

What really Rosenbaum and her students care about is the community they and their families live in.

Rosenbaum spoke of the extensive work of students in the school garden as well as the community garden.

“We are improving air quality and the quality of life in Morrisania,” Rosenbaum said.

Rosenbaum’s motivation and commitment to her students and environmental science started with her own schooling in Washington Heights some 30 years ago.

She spoke up having one particular math teacher who helped in her studies in order for young Rosenbaum to go to a specialized math and science school.

Rosenbaum spent her collegiate years (undergraduate and graduate) studying environmental science only to realize a big chuck of the population did not understand the effects of climate change.

“I found out a lot of people in power didn’t have the proper knowledge on climate issues,” Rosenbaum said.

After changing her career path over to education, she knew she would return to the people who needed her most, the children of NYC.

“I wanted to return with the expertise and knowledge I had, like the opposite of brain drain, and bring it back to the community,” Rosenbaum said. “It’s my passion, what I was meant to do.”

Ulloa and Soto both underlined Rosenbaum’s teachings of activism and its importance to the fight against climate change.

“[She] taught me activism, interconnectedness, and being sociable to further pursue our goals and how to be a sustainable person,” Soto said.

Looking to the future and continuing the fight against climate change, Rosenbaum intends to have her students get even more involved in the community they live in.

First and foremost, the teacher plans on incorporating more citizen action among her students.

“I want them to actually implement something instead of studying something just for the sake of studying it,” Rosenbaum said.

Another future goal of Rosenbaum’s is having her students talk to their parents, relatives, and neighbors who live in the neighborhood about the 2020 census.

She said, even though people may be intimidated of answering this year’s questions, she finds it critical for people who live in the community to be apart of the census to plan accordingly for climate resiliency.

Rosenbaum plans to take her students to a climate change summit in the spring to meet with other students who share the same passion and move forward fighting climate change.

More from Around NYC