International Gathering of Partners and Trainers Attend GPO Workshop

Seventy-five participants hailing from 19 countries, including 18 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, traveled to Boulder, Colorado, USA, on 3-9 August 2008 for the GLOBE/DLESE Partner Professional Development Workshop. The participants represented a diverse cross-section of GLOBE's worldwide community, including Country Coordinators and master trainers, who became active participants in a hands-on introduction to GLOBE's Earth System Science Projects (ESSPs), and the GLOBE model of student research designed to support student scientific research around environmental topics.

The ultimate outcome will be the development of a student research Collaboratory and a global campaign that focuses on climate change (read more about the GLOBE Student Research Campaign on Climate Change below). Currently, ESSPs are being developed by teams of scientists and educators, in collaboration with the GLOBE Program Office and Partners, to guide teachers and students in an integrated approach to Earth system science. Students learn how interactions within the Earth system affect their surroundings and how, in turn, this affects regional and global environments. This progression naturally leads to students focusing on research questions identified while exploring and learning about their local environments.

GLOBE's four Earth System Science Projects presented at the Workshop included:

The Watershed Dynamics project led by Northwestern University in Partnership with Consortium of Universities for Advancement of Hydrologic Science (CUASHI) scientists.

From Local to Extreme Environments (FLEXE), a deep ocean project led by Pennsylvania State University in Partnership with RIDGE and InterRIDGE scientists.

The Seasons and Biomes project, led by the University of Alaska at Fairbanks in Partnership with scientists from the International Arctic Research Center (IARC), the International Polar Year (IPY), and NASA satellite missions.

The Carbon Cycle project, led by the University of New Hampshire partnering with North American Carbon Cycle scientists.

This Workshop constituted the first of several events designed to introduce the fundamentals of these projects and to glean feedback vital to the further development of ESSPs suitable for use in a wide variety of geographic regions, climate zones and classroom environments around the world. Participating alongside their international colleagues were GLOBE Program Office staff members of Boulder, Colorado. Also in attendance were several members of the staff of the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE), co-sponsors of the event.

Holly Devaul, Manager of Educational Programs and Services for Digital Learning Sciences, delivered a presentation on a range of digital library tools and services. She provided an overview on the goals and benefits of digital libraries in an educational setting, and demonstrated basic search strategies in the Digital Library for Earth System Education and the National Science Digital LibraryTeaching Boxes; classroom-ready instructional units designed by teachers and scientists to support inquiry-focused teaching, were presented, as were the Science Literacy Maps hosted by NSDL. Content customization services to support contextualized access to digital library resources were examined.

Also under discussion during the Workshop was the development of the new GLOBE Student Research Collaboratory, intended to be a one-stop Web site that will provide a discreet set of tools and resources designed to support student inquiry and teacher facilitation of student scientific research, as well as on-line collaboration between students, teachers, and scientists. Partners at the workshop were introduced to a conceptual version of the Collaboratory by Mr. Martos Hoffman, Coordinator for the Workshop. During a set of focus group sessions, each Partner was asked to review and comment on a paper-based draft version of the Collaboratory. Comments provided by the Partners and Trainers will inform the design, functionality, and content of the first Web version of the Collaboratory. 

Hoffman introduced a draft of the GLOBE Model for Student Scientific Research. This flexible, non-linear, model describes the scientific process in a manner that is usable for both students as well as teachers. GLOBE intends on linking existing GLOBE materials to this model and developing a suite of new resources that will help guide students through the process of conducing scientific research of their local environment. These resources will become part of the GLOBE Student Research Collaboratory.

Lynne Davis, Human Computer Interaction Engineer and Usability Specialist at Digital Learning Science, along with Holly DeVaul, conducted the series of four, one-hour lunch-time focus group sessions. Each session focused on one of the following topics:

  • An Artifact-driven Approach for Implementing the Research Model
  • The Student Scientific Research Model as Organizer for the Online Collaboratory
  • Joining a project - Where does Collaboration Fit?
  • Resources, Tips and Tools for Collaboration

These topics represent primary features of the envisioned online GLOBE Collaboratory. Partners were asked to comment about benefits and barriers to doing online collaborative student research from their professional perspectives.

Welcoming remarks, introductions and workshop goals were delivered by GLOBE Director, Dr. Ed Geary, who also gave a brief introduction to the GLOBE Worldwide Student Research Campaign on Climate Change. Dr. Geary called for a GLOBE community-wide commitment to a worldwide campaign that will engage over a million students in over 50,000 schools. He stated that GLOBE is uniquely positioned to undertake a global student research campaign of this magnitude by leveraging all that has been accomplished so far to take student research to the next level.

Dr. Teresa Kennedy, Deputy Director for International Programs and Partnerships and U.S. Country Coordinator, followed with a short presentation on Inquiry and GLOBE: History and the Future. She emphasized the formation of a strong worldwide network of students, teachers, scientists and Partners working together to learn about Earth Systems. Dr. Emmett Wright, Deputy Director for Education and Science, spoke about the need for GLOBE to be innovative, motivated and strategic in planning the future of GLOBE, with the new focus on ESSPs and field research campaigns. Martos Hoffman's address focused on the benefits of the student inquiry model in promoting scientific, analytical and communication skills. He challenged the audience to think about how students and teachers get to the point of formulating good research questions, and why data analysis is key. Dr. Sheila Yule emphasized the importance of scientist networks, which help Partners with design strategies for implementing student research and offer access to external expertise. She also spoke about Learning Communities, the GLOBE Schools Network, the GLOBE Alumni Network and specialized networks as a valuable resource. GLOBE'S Chief Scientist Dr. Peggy LeMone discussed Student Scientific Research in Action. She presented an example of how students can work together with other GLOBE students and scientists to address significant researchable ideas within the context of The GLOBE Model of Student Scientific Research.

Participants were divided into four smaller working groups, and rotated on a daily basis to day-long workshops focusing on ESSP learning modules currently in development.

The Watershed Dynamics project team, represented by Colleen Buzby, a curriculum developer from Northwestern University, and David Smith, the GPO Project Lead, presented the recently revised Water Availability learning module. This learning module has four investigations that deal with annual and seasonal variations in precipitation, evaporation and surface runoff in the Continental United States. In addition to these learning activities, participants were also re-introduced to GLOBE's "Just Passing Through" activity and the Soil Infiltration protocol. A new stream flow protocol is being developed by the project team and was introduced to the Partners as well. The most significant addition the project is planning is the integration of a global dataset that would allow GLOBE international Partners to implement the module in their home countries.

The FLEXE Team, led by Liz Goehring, Co-PI from Pennsylvania State University, shared the final pilot version of the Energy Unit to GLOBE Partners at the August DLESE/ESSP Workshop. The activities included several components that are being evaluated for their potential use in the GLOBE Collaboratory—Class Profile, Report Writer, and Peer Review—as well as the core activities on energy transfer in local and extreme environments. Several of the signature activities—the FLEXE Forums—were presented to the Partners along with key hands-on activities that were all linked to the GLOBE Student Research Model. The Forums are driven by deep-sea Ridge 2000 scientists posing questions to FLEXE students. This requires the students to apply their understanding of energy transfer concepts in their local environment in order to make sense of data from hydrothermal vents. The feedback from the Partners was spirited and focused on helping the presenters from the FLEXE Team—Liz Goehring, Steve Kerlin, Eric Simms, and GPO Project Lead, Jamie Larsen—improve the quality of the Unit. The final pilot of the Energy Unit will take place this school year 2008-2009, with an intended release to the greater GLOBE community during the following year.

Lara Gengarelly, Mary Martin and Sarah Silverberg from University of New Hampshire and Gary Randolph the GPO Project Lead, presented the Carbon Cycle learning module. Topics under review included: Plant-a-Plant classroom experiments – an example of the Plant-a-Plant classroom experiments using corn seeds was presented to the group; the accompanying activities and poster were available during the week for participants to view; Follow the Carbon Atom – a self-guided adventure story through the carbon cycle. Participants received draft guides and read through several steps of their personal journeys through the carbon cycle; Paper Clip Factory – an introductory hands-on activity that looks at a simple system (an imaginary paper clip factory) to help students gain knowledge in system thinking concepts and learn the basics of how systems can be represented through the use of models. Carbon Cycle Field Activities – since most, if not all, participants have experienced the Land Cover biometry protocols and the carbon cycle project's measurements are very similar, student field procedure guides were assigned as pre-workshop reading. While the actual field measurements were not discussed at length, participants were given additional information about supporting classroom activities that address important science concepts. Participants also worked through the analysis of a sample field data set to better understand how carbon storage can be calculated from simple field measurements and how this data could be used for additional student investigations. The One-box Biomass Model – using the iSee Player Tutorial (available for free download at participants experienced systems modeling to see how models can be simplified to represent complex systems and to use the model to demonstrate the role of vegetation in the carbon cycle.

Dr. Sheila Yule, GPO Project Lead, along with Drs. Elena Sparrow and Leslie Gordon, Ms. Martha Gordon and Ms. Kim Morris, from the University of Fairbanks, Institute of Arctic Research in Alaska, presented the Seasons and Biomes learning module. The presentation was focused within an Earth System theme when observing seasonal phenomenon in local environments. Of particular interest for those in the taiga/tundra biomes was the Ice Phenology and Frost tube protocols. These were presented within the context of International Polar Year data by comparing the data and the noting of changes. For Temperate and tropical biomes the mosquito protocol was presented as designed to help students conduct biomes studies to gain an understanding of mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and the West Nile virus. A special feature of the Seasons and Biomes presentation was an emphasis on formulating inquiry learning activities as a pedagogical approach to preliminary research. Participants were offered an opportunity to engage their schools in a pilot Student Scientific Research Campaign Biome Study. 

DLS and NSDL staff were available throughout the week to offer additional support to participants in integrating digital library resources and services into the outreach and professional development they can do for the GLOBE community. Professional development support materials can be found on the DLESE Web site

Many of the Workshop participants elected to take part in the optional bus trip to Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado, about an hour-long drive from Boulder. The visit to this spectacular national treasure, full of lush valleys and craggy peaks, was a wonderful culmination to a week spent largely indoors. Participants used the GLX data and collector with the GPS probe to determine their exact location. Several of the participants saw snow for the first time. 

As a major outcome of the workshop all Partners are in the process of developing a professional staff development plan they will be able to implement with Partners and teachers in their countries and regions during the following year—focusing on curriculum elements and inquiry and research strategies that are easily adaptable to local implementation. In several instances clusters of Partners found common ground to jointly develop an integrated professional development plan. The plans, to be submitted by October 1, will be reviewed by the GLOBE Program Office. Through ongoing development and capacity building, GLOBE will be able to raise visibility to new levels, leverage its resources around the world, and advance to a new level, a model for 21st century science education around the world.

27 August 2008



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