Puerto Rico's GLOBE Leader "Stars"


Strengthening elementary school to university (K-16) collaborations has earned the GLOBE Program leader in Puerto Rico an impressive array of kudos-and financial support--from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other prestigious organizations.

NSF is awarding $1.4 million over three years to Puerto Rico's U.S. GLOBE Partner Coordinator, Dr. Juan Lopez Garriga, as a "Graduate Teaching Fellow in K-12 Education." The award will help Lopez realize his goal of helping more young people gain the skills they need to enter college or high-skilled occupations.

Known as "Graduate and Undergraduate Students Enhancing Science and Technology in K-12 Schools" or "GUEST K-12," the program will link university students in chemistry, biology, engineering and other scientific fields with GLOBE elementary and secondary school students around the island.

"GLOBE is the most complete program I've seen in the 12 years I have been working in science education and outreach," Lopez said. "GLOBE attracts people from different fields, not just scientists from different fields. It can provide links around the world as a tool for communication. It links cultures, skills, teachers and students of different interests and levels. It allows the program to grow in different directions."

"One of the biggest assets of the program is that the experiments and measures students are doing are not lost - somebody is using them," Lopez continued. "Students realize they are contributing to larger scientific efforts."

Lopez also recently garnered two other prestigious teaching awards for his work: the American Chemical Society's Puerto Rico Division's Igaravidez Award and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). In addition to his education work, Lopez oversees chemistry research projects at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayag|ez. He said he sees his efforts through GLOBE as an investment not only in science education specifically but in college and workforce preparation in general.

"We want to influence not only the new generation of scientists but also the future generation of professionals," Lopez said. "When students have studied with GLOBE, they are more likely to go into the university. I believe as more people go to college it will be better for society. And if young people have the skills that GLOBE supports, they will have a better job out of high school, even if they don't go to university, and this helps them and society in the long run, too." Study of the impact of GLOBE-based curriculum on Puerto Rico's work force and communities is another of Lopez's goals.

With the help of funding by the NSF, GLOBE's Partner in Puerto Rico has developed a corps of graduate and undergraduate mentors from the chemistry, biology, engineering and mathematics departments at the university. These mentors support GLOBE teachers in classrooms throughout Puerto Rico. Their activities include:

  • adapting protocols that fit with each school's environment,
  • training and support for teachers, including aid in reporting data,
  • using GLOBE data in student research and science fairs,
  • incorporating GLOBE in curricula, and
  • building support for the Program at schools and within communities.

 

Lopez oversees "Science on Wheels," (SOW) a hands-on, science-on-tour education outreach program used as a stepping-stone to GLOBE activities. Demonstrations of experiments such as acid-base reactions, combustion and the effects of temperature change are performed for students and teachers. Where SOW sparks interest, teachers are introduced to GLOBE, trained in GLOBE protocols and join the network of support and mentoring that Lopez's program provides.

GLOBE in Puerto Rico already has established ties with a variety of community players: the Puerto Rico Department of Education; the Puerto Rico Science Teachers Association; El Nuevo Dia, the island's newspaper of record; Geographic Mapping Technologies, a private company that works with Geographic Information Systems software; and the San German Alliance, a school to work program. In addition to NSF funds, GLOBE Puerto Rico has also won support from the Tropical Center for Earth and Space Studies, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration project, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Pfizer Inc. For more on GLOBE in Puerto Rico, visit http://sonw.uprm.edu/globeesp.shtml

19 July 2001




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