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Br. Barry Rock

Dr Barry N. Rock

Dr. Barry Rock, a Professor of Natural Resources and the Environment and the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New Hampshire (UNH) in Durham was GLOBE's first Chief Scientist and also GLOBE's first Assistant Director. "In April of 1994 I read a brief article in the Boston Globe (newspaper) about then-Vice President Al Gore wanting to initiate a K-12 Science/Education for the students of the world. I had developed a K-12 environmental program at UNH in 1991 called Forest Watch, and I felt my experience with Forest Watch might give Vice President Gore some insight into how to develop his planned (but as yet, un-named) program. I called the White House general number and left a message for Vice President Gore. Within three days, I received a phone call inviting me to come to Washington to be part of a discussion about this proposed program." 

In Washington D.C., Rock spoke about the Forest Watch Program which engaged K-12 students in measurements of the health of white pine, a known bio-indicator for ground-level ozone exposure. The idea of K-12 students engaged in hands-on study and collection of data on the environment throughout the world was of great interest to him. Based on his Forest Watch Program, he knew that students––even young ones––were able to collect accurate data as long as they had been properly trained by their teachers and followed clearly-defined protocols. He was also energized by the idea that these students would be looking at atmospheric, biologic, hydrologic and soils measurements, with the opportunity to see and understand how these components of Earth's systems were inter-connected.


Shortly after the initial meeting, Rock was interviewed for the position of first Senior Scientist for the new program to be called GLOBE and was offered the position. Rock took a leave of absence from the University of New Hampshire in order to take on the new challenge out of the very first GLOBE office in Washington in 1994.


Rock's participation in the GLOBE Program affirmed his belief that hands-on learning, involving authentic and relevant science, was the best way to engage students and their teachers in learning science and technology. The GLOBE approach to learning, along with his other hands-on science programs (Forest Watch, Project SMART, Watershed Watch, and others) have significantly contributed to science and technology education for young students in many communities across the world. According to Rock, "Nothing can be more important or beneficial to a community than the successful education of its children, especially in science, math and technology."

Last week, Rock's friends and colleagues gathered in the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, at Morse Hall to celebrate his retirement from the University of New Hampshire. For Rock, retirement means the freedom to keep working at exactly what he does best. " I intend to write a textbook on "Environmental Conservation Issues," which will include a significant focus on the role of hands-on learning as a means of addressing such issues," Rock noted. "I also plan to lecture extensively on the benefits of hands-on learning and K-12 student engagement as a means of educating the general population on environmentalissues––climate change, air quality, water quality, etc."

The GLOBE Program Office (GPO) salutes Barry Rock for his many contributions to the formation and growth of the GLOBE Program and wishes him the very best in the years ahead.