Regional Help Desk Office for Europe and Eurasia
For almost two decades, Dana Votápková, of Prague, Czech Republic, significantly contributes to the implementation of GLOBE in the Czech Republic.
Initially, she served as assistant country coordinator (1995––1998) and later as country coordinator (1999––2012). In addition, she plays a vital role as project manager and GLOBE consultant for the TEREZA Association, a nongovernmental organization for environmental education in the Czech Republic and is a regional help desk officer for Europe and Eurasia.
Votápková's initial involvement with GLOBE began in 1995 when she was invited to participate in the first international GLOBE training workshop in Prague, Czech Republic. "I participated and met fantastic people––trainers, scientists and incoming country coordinators," she said. "There was excitement in the air at that first training; GLOBE was something very new." Because of her experience in managing projects for students concerning air pollution (acid rain, ozone, etc.) she was asked to help launch GLOBE in the Czech Republic. Gary Randolph, current manager of the science and education team at the GLOBE Program Office (GPO), was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Czech Republic at the time, and the two became early supporters of GLOBE in the region.
In 1995, GLOBE in the Czech Republic began with 25 schools. GLOBE offered teachers a fresh way to introduce hands-on outdoor education, through scientifically valid data collection and research that could be used to analyze local environmental issues. In addition, GLOBE offered students the opportunity to work with scientists and to examine their environment as young scientists themselves. One of the early benefits of GLOBE in the Czech Republic was the opportunity to use the internet within GLOBE and upload data to the global database via the Internet. "It was something very new in our country," Votápková explained. "The ability to communicate with students all over the world was also very desirable. We built a network of twin schools paired schools and organized communication and visits between them." GLOBE now involves more than 150 schools in the Czech Republic. "And it is still growing." she said..
In 1997, a major breakthrough occurred when Votápková and director of TEREZA, Jana Ledvinová, were working on a unique plan to engage students in environmental activities in a way that would make learning fun. They became members of the organizing committee of the first GLOBE Learning Expedition (GLE) in Helsinki, Finland, where they introduced a new concept known as the GLOBE Games.
Every year since, TEREZA has hosted the GLOBE Games in the Czech Republic, bringing together environmentally concerned students, teachers, scientists and special guests from the Czech Republic and neighboring countries. The object of the games is to raise environmental awareness among GLOBE students through data collection and research, to initiate collaboration among schools throughout the region, to introduce participants to special environmental challenges involving many of the GLOBE protocols and to encourage teambuilding in a festival-like setting. Every year, approximately 250 students and teachers from 35 Czech schools and 50 students and teachers from nearby GLOBE countries participated in the GLOBE Games.
TEREZA also hosted the first European GLOBE Games in May 2005. More than 400 students and teachers from 13 countries (Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lebanon, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovak Republic and Switzerland) participated in the event. Organizers, visitors and special guests brought the total number to nearly 550.
GLOBE in the Czech Republic is very much a collaborative organization. The e-Learning in Science and Environmental Education (e-LSEE) project involves teachers and country coordinators from 6 European countries working together do develop a set of learning activities based on GLOBE Protocols. And in cooperation with Karl Hetland of Norway, a Czech–Norwegian twin schools project collaborates in 1998. Now they collaborate also with Croatia in the Tree Ring Project.
"The GLOBE Program is part of my life,' says Votápková. "Thanks to GLOBE I have met many interesting people that have inspired me and with whom I am able to discuss ideas and new ways of thinking. GLOBE helps me set questions and find answers. And I try to share what I have gained from GLOBE with teachers and students alike." She continued, "I am really happy that GLOBE community is still growing. Some of former GLOBE students stay with GLOBE during their studies at University and after theirs studies. One of them (Josef Brůna) is young scientist now and he often says: GLOBE is a style of life."