Magazine article Technology & Learning

Students of the World Unite

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Students of the World Unite

Article excerpt

The promise of the Internet and other technologies to bring the world's classrooms together looks great on those television commercials and glossy magazine spreads, but what does the reality look like? Take a look at the GLOBE Program (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment). GLOBE is a worldwide, hands-on science and education program for primary and secondary students. It brings together students, teachers, scientists, and community members to collaborate on inquiry-based investigations of the environment.

Now in its 13th year, more than 40,000 teachers from more than 21,000 schools around the world have been trained in the GLOBE methodology, and students have contributed more than 18 million measurements to the GLOBE database. This currently encompasses four broad investigation areas: atmosphere and climate, hydrology, land cover biology, and soil. Current large-scale earth system science projects focus on seasons and biomes, carbon cycle, watershed dynamics, and local and extreme environments.

OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK

GLOBE is funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of State. Early partners included the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Education, says Teresa Kennedy, deputy director, who's been involved in GLOBE from its early days. "There have been a lot of players who have funded aspects of the program over the years, providing U.S. students with opportunities to work with other students and scientists around the world," says Kennedy, who holds a doctorate in education and spent 15 years in K-12 classrooms and another decade teaching at the university level. "By participating in GLOBE, students become scientists, making observations, forming hypotheses, gathering data, writing reports, and communicating the results to their peers around the world."

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Early funding helped the organization to develop 54 step-by-step scientific protocols for the rigorous and consistent gathering of data in support of student research projects, and to provide for the 60 learning activities that teachers can incorporate into classroom learning. Now, most funding goes toward supporting the program's infrastructure, earth system science incorporation of earth-observing satellite data, the scientific development of student research projects and related science content, as well as maintaining GLOBE's Web site (www.globe.gov) and massive database. It also supports opportunities for students, teachers, and scientists to collaborate on projects and communicate their findings.

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Widespread users in the United States include the New York City Department of Education, the Texas Regional Collaboratives for Excellence in Science Teaching (an award-winning statewide network of partnerships that provide sustained and high-intensity professional development to K-12 teachers of science in Texas), and the Alabama Department of Education. …

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