Successful Regional Meeting and Training Event in Latin American and the Caribbean

On 24-25 May 2012, the IX GLOBE Latin America+Caribbean Regional Meeting was held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. This important event, with representation from 15 countries in the region (Argentina, Bahamas, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, MexicoPanama, Paraguay, PeruDominican Republic, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, and Uruguay), captured significant media attention, appearing in several prestigious local newspapers.

The opening ceremony of the event was chaired by Ms. María Carolina Gordillo, Officer of Children's Project from the Office of the First Lady and current Vice President-Elect of the Dominican Republic; Mr. José Amado Rodriguez, Director of the Department of Education from the Ministry of Education; Lic. Andrea Ventoso, GIAC Representative for the Latin America+Caribbean region and GLOBE Uruguay Country Coordinator; Mr. René del Risco, Vice President of the Marti PG Petroleum Group, generous sponsors of the GLOBE Program in the Dominican Republic; Lic. María Lorraine Ruiz-Alma, GLOBE Program Coordinator of the Dominican Republic; Dr. Teresa Kennedy, Director of the International Division of the GLOBE Program Office (GPO), and Ms. Joshabel De La Cruz from the Foreign Section of the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic.

After enthusiastic words of welcome, Dr. Teresa Kennedy acknowledged the hard work of the GLOBE GIAC representative of the region, Lic Andrea Ventoso, and Arq. María del Carmen Simone de Grimaux and Ms. Amalia Aubone, from the LAC GLOBE Regional Help Desk Office. She also thanked Lic. María Lorraine de Ruiz-Alma for her contributions to her country and the region through her efforts to coordinate the regional meeting and training events; also recognizing the work and dedication of all countries in the region to promote GLOBE student research activities. Likewise, Dr. Kennedy highlighted the leadership and assistance provided by GLOBE's U.S. Federal Agency sponsors, NASA, NOAA, and NSF, as well as the U.S. Department of State who provides constant assistance to GLOBE countries in all regions, and added that all staff at the GLOBE Program Office (GPO) are working hard to facilitate GLOBE activities around the world. In addition, TROPIGAS Natural Foundation of the Martí Petroleum Group was praised for their generous donations to support GLOBE in the Dominican Republic. "Due to contributions made by many, the LAC region has achieved national and international merit for its GLOBE scientific research activities," stated Kennedy.

After the opening ceremony, Arq. María del Carmen de Grimaux and Ms. Amalia Aubone, representatives of the Regional Support Office of the GLOBE Program, asked all to observe a minute of silence in memory of Dr. Andy Tasker prior to beginning the regional meeting agenda. Acknowledging his leadership and the inspiration he gave to all, each country coordinator presented their country reports, highlighting their most important achievements in the GLOBE Program and their plans for the new school year.

"It was an enriching meeting where we learned from the experiences of other coordinators, trainers and teachers. These events provide us with the opportunity to learn about the reinvigorating changes occurring within GLOBE in our region," said Prof. María Marta Daneri, GLOBE country coordinator from Argentina. GIAC representative Lic. Andrea Ventoso noted the importance of the regional meeting and training event for master trainers since it "will empower countries to conduct more local workshops and build training capacity nationally, also providing ongoing support to each country through an international trainer team of experts from several countries in the region and from the Regional Help Desk Office, since it is essential to promote the formation of new trainers to expand national teams that can work with children in each of our countries."

Many innovative implementation strategies were shared by each country.  GLOBE Country Coordinator from Suriname, Ms. Monique Pool, explained expansion efforts underway to bring GLOBE to areas in the country that can only be reached by small aircrafts. Currently focusing on atmosphere and hydrology topics, they will begin including Land Cover protocols to help students further answer their research questions.

GLOBE members In Chile are currently reinvigorating the program, promoting alliances with relevant institutions and professionals that have the opportunity to work with GLOBE. We also hope to enter more data so students can begin diverse research projects in benefit of our country and the world," said Country Coordinator Ms. Nicole Orellana, noting appreciation to "the U.S. Embassy for supporting 4 master trainer candidates, with expertise in each of GLOBE's investigation areas, who will return to Chile to prepare and mentor teachers in more schools to participate in GLOBE."

"GLOBE has grown substantially in Costa Rica thanks in large part to the Regional Help Desk Office and the GPO. Two teachers from Costa Rica have been trained to become experts in hydrology (the specialty of our country), which allows the growth of GLOBE in Costa Rica. We hope to grow our program to include 20 institutions across the country in in 2012," mentioned Mr. Roberto Quirós Araya, country coordinator, who also shared their hydrology videos in Spanish that can be used as a valuable resource for the entire region. Costa Rica has also translated the materials from the Watershed Dynamics Earth Science System Project.

GLOBE Country Coordinator from Mexico, Mtra. Teresita del Niño Jesús Maldonado Salazar, highlighted the active participation of 112 GLOBE schools in her country and reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the Program, with engaged trainers, interdisciplinary teams, willingness, and the promotion of GLOBE student participation in various campaigns and research projects involving GLOBE measurements. Ing. Adilia de Perez, country coordinator from Panamá, emphasized an additional resource they are using to enhance understanding of GLOBE Land Cover protocols, Flower of West Panama, in connection with atmospheric variables. 

Mr. Godfrey Burnside, Country Coordinator from the Department of Meteorology from the Ministry of Environment in the Bahamas, shared his experiences working with teachers in 11 schools where he regularly visits GLOBE science teachers.  He is strategically working with the Nature Conservancy to hold trainings to re-engage schools that no longer have GLOBE trained teachers due to school transfers. "The GLOBE Program has been a powerful learning experience for our Primary Level students. The students are excited about the hands-on approach and enjoy sharing their GLOBE studies at science fairs," he stated.  In addition to expanding efforts to include Queens College in GLOBE, he conducts a weekly weather cast covering severe storms, occasionally stepping out of the meeting for short periods to present meteorological broadcasts over the internet back to the Bahamas.

GLOBE representative from Ecuador, Dr. Rocío Bastidas, discussed their innovative recruitment measures that include hosting "open houses" in the schools in her country to highlight GLOBE Program activities and research results related to investigation areas such as atmosphere, hydrology and soil. She shared an introductory video produced by OIKOS Corporation, the NGO responsible for coordination of the GLOBE Program in Ecuador, a valuable resource that helps to explain the benefit of GLOBE at community events.  Another important initiative was described by Mr. Carlos Rojas, Peru country coordinator.

"We aim at forming a strong support group devoted to further developing GLOBE activities, incorporating the participation of public and private institutions, with full commitment from the Ministry of Environment, to form groups of GLOBE teachers in 8 regions across the country this year," he explained.

Another innovative implementation model was described by Lic. María Lorraine de Ruiz-Alma, placing importance on connecting GLOBE projects with relevant community environmental concerns, and using GLOBE as a means of integrating components of science and mathematics in a practical manner, such as highlighting GLOBE at Science Fair Competitions and related student research events. "This is possible through the use of current technologies such as One Note, and Social Networks such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as mobilizing access of data entry pages to ensure students can access the GLOBE website from their study sites using cell phones and tablet computers," she explained.

GLOBE Country Coordinator Met. Felix Trujillo and GLOBE trainer Mr. Grover Uscamaita, from Bolivia described the re-launch efforts of GLOBE in their country currently underway. Bolivia is currently preparing for a major teacher training workshop for teachers and students organized in four educational units focused on weather.  Ms. María Gracia Dubini, GLOBE Country Coordinator from Paraguay, mentioned the importance of including the first GLOBE Trainer certified in her country in national training activities to provide new teachers with opportunities to discuss proven successful implementation strategies, and described her plan to increase the number of GLOBE schools to 20 by providing a professional development opportunity for new GLOBE trainers in June.

The GLOBE Alumni Organization in the region continues to grow and its regional leader, Mr. Juan Diego Calvo-Perez from Peru, presented their projects via Skype alongside fellow researchers Mr. Gustavo de la Cruz Montalvo and Mr. Luis Andres Rodríguez Flores and invited countries to encourage their GLOBE students to join their regional network. Gabriel Ruiz- Alma, Alumni from the Dominican Republic, joined the conversation and an emotional exchange of ideas took place concerning the need for communication and enthusiasm among the younger generation to collaborate on projects of interest with other countries in the region. Ms. Heather Frankland, from the Peace Corps in Peru, described an important project currently in progress to increase research capacities on the educative community in Peru, starting with nine departments this year.

A new regional project, Food and Its Environment, was discussed and agreed upon. This project, originally discussed at the 2011 GLOBE Annual Meeting in Washington D.C., will monitor growing seasons, soil types, water, and atmospheric conditions and encourage national school participation in each country, including schools located near border communities, to promote strong international collaborations among countries in the region. The project will include GLOBE students in primary through university classrooms. Students will study local crops, how they are grown, where they are grown, water and irrigation models, the different

types of transportation used in exporting or importing crops across borders, including the amount of CO2 introduced into the atmosphere, and how all of these aspects relate to climate. A culminating project will include research on the best crops (fruits, vegetables and grains) to grow in their local environment with a garden as the final project. "This is an important project using GLOBE protocols to correlate food quality to climate change, looking at land cover and composition of air and water in the area, among other environmental factors," explained Lic. María Lorraine de Ruiz-Alma. 

The meeting ended with all countries declaring their commitment to increase national and regional implementation measures. Immediately following the regional meeting, trainer candidates from all 15 countries joined their country coordinators in an intensive training seminar held at Notre Dame School on 26-27 May aimed at improving the LAC regional training network. Forty-five participants including teachers, trainers, master trainers and master trainer candidates participated in the event.

In small groups, and under the mentorship of a certified Master Trainer, candidate trainers led other teachers and trainers in Atmosphere, Hydrology, Land Cover/Biology and Soil, demonstrated their ability to organize training sessions and led high quality instruction of properly conducted GLOBE protocols in their designated investigation area.Master Trainers facilitating the event includedLic.María Lorraine Ruiz-Alma (Dominican Republic) and  Prof. María Marta Daneri (Argentina) in Atmosphere,  Prof. Marta Kingsland (Argentina) in Soil, Prof. Claudia Caro (Peru) in Land Cover/Biology, and Ms. Viviana Zamorano (Chile) and Dr. Teresa Kennedy (USA) in Hydrology.

During the training, candidates increased their experiences by discussing and practicing proper techniques for conducting GLOBE protocols at teacher training events and shared their experiences in the field with one another. The primary objective of the event was to ensure that all GLOBE Trainers and Master Trainers in the region have knowledge, skills and experience in the critical areas of science, education, training adults, and knowledge of GLOBE so that each country can build capacity on a national

level in the investigation areas that support the research interests of their students. During the opening session, Lic. María Lorraine Ruiz-Alma highlighted the importance of "surprising learners and fostering curiosity in the students in order to build their individual knowledge base. She stressed the importance of using Socratic pedagogy that encourages observation, investigation criteria guidelines where learning from mistakes is considered positive as it allows for experiential learning, and further stressed that each individual opinion must be valued as correct since it is a personal observation." 

Ms. Claudia Romagnoli, new Atmosphere Master Trainer from Argentina said, "GLOBE has enabled students and teachers from many schools to develop interesting projects that connect the curricula with different environmental issues.  Through GLOBE, they gain knowledge about Earth System science, take scientific measurements and develop research projects they can share with students around the world.  Students can participate in many special measurement campaigns included in the large scale Student Climate Research Campaign (SCRC) and also participate in community events associated with GLOBE at Night."

"This training seminar has given us the chance of getting in touch with educators from Latin America and the Caribbean to share among us ideas on how to include GLOBE in the curriculum" said Mr. Kishore Lal from Trinidad and Tobago, new Master Trainer in Atmosphere, during the training seminar debrief. Mr. Gustavo Mercado, new Soil Master Trainer from Mexico added, "Our regional training group works very closely together to develop research investigations using GLOBE protocols; because of that, GLOBE is an important tool that has been included in the school curricula at lower, middle and higher levels."  Likewise, new Land Cover/Biology Master Trainer Ms. Ana Prieto from Argentina mentioned, "GLOBE improves the vision of students about the world, increases our scientific knowledge and puts us in contact with people from different cultures. This has really been an excellent workshop that helped us exchange experiences, initiate future collaborative research projects and specially has provided the opportunity for us to learn a lot from each other. I´d like to stress the fantastic comradeship among the participants. It was clear that all participants had a genuine interest in promoting and strengthening the GLOBE Program throughout our region, and as a result, we can all work together to promote learners who participate in high quality research projects to get in closer contact with science."

The Botanical Garden of Santo Domingo provided wonderful study sites in all investigation areas. "This has been excellent! It has given us an opportunity to learn how to strengthen the work done in schools throughout the Latin American and Caribbean countries, and as a result is breaking cultural and geographic barriers, especially those due to the differences in languages spoken in our region. Thanks to the GPO and to the Regional Help Desk Office in Argentina for their constant support and encouraging assistance. It feels good be part of a big family," proclaimed Prof. Claudia Caro from Peru.

New atmosphere Master Trainer Mr. Rony Salazar from Guatemala, working closely with Guatemalan Country Coordinator Mr. Erick Francisco Ruedas Reynosa,expressed his gratitude for the support received from GPO for his country and for its deep conviction in the development and successful of this important program that have let him incorporate new experiences in the process which he is commitment in order to carry out the training of new younger people and children with science knowledge and environment sensibility. We hope to offer new workshops using our new experiences gained at this event when we return to Guatemala."

Special thanks to the entire GLOBE team and to the staff of Notre Dame School in the Dominican Republic for hosting this successful regional event. The genuine Dominican hospitality gave everyone an authentic learning experience through participating in cultural experiences and traditional dances, trips to environmental parks and beaches and the strolling through the colonial areas of the first city in America.

Read more about GLOBE activities in the Dominican Republic and throughout the LAC region:

Extraordinary Enthusiasm for The GLOBE Program in The Dominican Republic

Costa Rica Celebrates the First Scientific Environmentalism Festival

Uruguay Students Look for Life in the Miguelete Stream

Students from the Dominican Republic Present GLOBE Program at Model United Nations in New York City


15 June 2012 



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