Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Climate Change: ELA Connections through Poetry


Science education can take many forms — from textbooks and museum exhibits to documentaries, news articles, and yes, even poetry! And you don’t need to be an adult in an education career to talk to others about science. Amanda Gorman, former National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States, was only 16 years old when she presented her poem "Earthrise" to the Climate Reality Leadership Corps in 2018.

Watch and Read the Poem 'Earthrise'

Watch the video linked below of Amanda Gorman’s poem and follow up by reading the text of the poem.

Reading Questions

  1. The full title of this poem is "Our Purpose in Poetry: Or, Earthrise." What is Gorman’s purpose in writing this poem? Who is her primary audience, and what does she want her audience to do? 
  2. Do you think Gorman is more hopeful or pessimistic about the future of the planet? Provide evidence from the text to support your answer.
  3. Do you agree with Gorman’s statement that "climate change is the single greatest challenge of our time"? Why or why not? 
  4. Identify a specific environmental concern of your own and write a poem to teach your peers about it. Be sure to include details about the issue, why you are concerned about it, and steps your audience could take to improve the situation.

Download a PDF of This Activity

Students can download the PDF to their devices, type answers into the PDF, and then save the file.

Related Online School Program for Grades 6 to 12

This activity is an extension for the Hot Potato: Climate Change, Food Systems, and You online school program, which is delivered by museum educators.

Resource Type
Hands-On ActivitiesPrintable Lessons
Grade Level
6-8, 9-12
Earth Science