Students in Argentina and USA Discuss Research on the Impact of Fire on Climate


On 24 April 2009, GLOBE students from CEI "San Ignacio Junín de los Andes" in Patagonia, Argentina, and Desert View Elementary School in New Mexico, USA, met online through Skype conferencing. Their discussion, in Spanish, was facilitated by GLOBE teachers Ana Prieto in Argentina, and Albert Álvarez Ortiz and Eduardo Colom in New Mexico, who saw the value of arranging a scientific and cultural exchange based on GLOBE student research.

GLOBE alumni in Patagonia, Argentina observe the videoconference
GLOBE alumni in Patagonia, Argentina
observe the videoconference

The students from Junín de los Andes presented a PowerPoint presentation on research they had done on the relationship between rainfall and fires in their home community and across the border into Chile. They collected and examined data from three Fire Departments: Huiliches, Lácar, and Los Lagos. The students determined that 40% of the fires were the results of campfires, 22% of the fires were the result of burning the vegetation, 15.7% the result of thunderstorms, and 6% were caused by children playing with fire. Remaining causes of fires included shorts from electrical lines, sparks from machines, discarded cigarettes, military activity and more. Using temperature data, students were able to correlate the rise in fire frequency to rise in temperature. The students also learned about the technology and human resources available to fight fires.

Mr. Colom and students in New Mexico, USA
Mr. Colom and students in New Mexico, USA

Concerned about the forests in their region, the Argentinean students used tree ring analyses to examine the history of their area. By counting the rings in a cross-section of a felled tree, they could determine that the tree had lived through various historical events including the creation of the first national park in Patagonia.

The interactive video conferencing technology allowed the two groups to discuss the fire impact research, their climatic and territorial diversity, and their cultural similarities and differences. Both groups agreed that this sort of interactive learning was much more inspiring than learning from books, as discussion really brought factual information to life. Writes Ms. Prieto from Argentina, "It was wonderful for my students to be able to share their research with other students who, although having the same language, are culturally very different. We enjoyed this exchange of both ethnic and scientific knowledge."

Students in New Mexico, USA participate in videoconference
Students in New Mexico, USA
participate in a videoconference

The event motivated both groups of students to learn about the impact of fire on climate, to prepare their presentations and documentation with care, and to share their research with others. The conversation also inspired the students to examine their common language, Spanish, examining the conceptual, phonetic and phonological differences.

This Skype videoconference that united students in Patagonia, Argentina, and New Mexico, USA, was a wonderful example of the power of GLOBE to bring together students from across borders to better understand the Earth's environment. Writes Mr. Colom, "This was the first time I have had the opportunity to be involved in a direct educational and scientific experience with students of another country, and the opportunity has been extraordinary for my students and for me."

For more information on the GLOBE activities described above see:

23 July 2009




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