"West Virginia is so dependent on some of the fossil fuels that people associate with climate change.
"If your emotions are linked to your livelihood or your home life, there are always values tied to that. With kids, if you give them all the information, they can start to understand when they're fairly young and decide what they believe," she said. "It doesn't have to be a scary thing."
Thousands of teachers in West Virginia have started implementing new lessons in other subjects, as well, using the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives, which align with "Common Core." The Common Core is a unified set of curriculum standards that most states have agreed to teach students.
By fall 2014, West Virginia students in grades 3 to 12 will have made the change.
Strong's solution to the environmental-teaching dilemma is to let the data and the facts lead the discussion, and then hand it over to the students to make their own decisions from there. However, when it comes to issues such as global warming, not everyone chooses to accept the same data.
"The approach that I learned to teach my students was where you weigh not only benefits of a particular fuel, but also the cost -- a cost-benefit analysis. Even high school students need to understand nothing is a panacea," she said. "You have to be scientific about it, but you also have to show all points of view. I think we sell kids short sometimes by not letting them make up their own minds."
Regardless of people's political beliefs, Strong supports the new science standards because she often sees major intellectual gaps about climate issues, not only in adolescents but in adults, too.
Two-thirds of students in the United States say they're not learning much about climate change at all, according to the National Center for Science Education.
"All it would take is there to be some groundwork laid in the schools so that you could have an informed citizenry. That's really all we're going for with any science standards," Strong said. "So [students] can make good decisions, vote and contribute to the conversation, instead of just going on emotions.
"When people say that the data's flawed in climate change, that's not true," she said. "There's enough valid documentation to merit that it is changing, and it is very likely to man's influence."
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.