International Student Exchange Project Examines Implementation of GLOBE Protocol
The seed of an idea to initiate a transcontinental student exchange project to examine the role of GLOBE across a wide spectrum of schools in Europe and Africa was planted at the GLOBE Annual Conference in Prague in 2005. The aim was to provide opportunities for university students having longstanding experience with GLOBE to share their expertise with students in other countries and to learn about the issues and resources in the countries visited.
Ms. Silke Alsen, who five years earlier had participated as an ASA scholarship recipient in an urban planning project in La Paz, Bolivia, became the conduit that linked the German ASA-Project and GLOBE. Silke, at the Nordic/Baltic Regional Environmental Office at the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen, was beginning to discover more about the GLOBE Program and facilitated the ASA-GLOBE connection. Silke also used her knowledge of both GLOBE and ASA in drafting and coordinating the application together with the Country Coordinators in Germany (Birgit Rademacher), Estonia (�lle Kikas and GLOBE Estonia Alumni Founder, Martin Pentson) and Cameroon (Margaret Besong). The three Country Coordinators designed the general project idea of Climate Change Policies and Public Awareness.
The idea became a reality when the exchange was organized and financial issues resolved by the U.S. Embassy, the German Environmental Lottery "BINGO!" (which provides funds to educational projects mostly related to school and Youth projects on Environment and Development) and GLEN(Global Education Network - a non-profit organization that promotes student exchanges focused on international cooperation). Financial support for the Cameroonian and German students came from the above-listed organizations while financial support for Mari Nuga was provided by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs through AK�, the Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation.
The Northern Phase for this project took place in Europe, 13 April - 16 June 2006 when students Leonie Njomou and Leslie Njume from Cameroon joined with Simone Lepper from Germany and Mari Nuga from Estonia. Beginning in Estonia, the team met with students from Tartu Kivilinna Gymnasium, Suure-Jaani Gymnasium and K��pa Basic School. They carried out several field programs involving hydrology and atmospheric measurements, helped with students' research projects and gathered information regarding the scope of GLOBE in Estonia. As a result of their work, the project participants hope to create a package of environmental education materials using GLOBE protocols on the subject of climate change.
The benefits of the GLEN-ASA-GLOBE North/South Student Exchange Project are proving to be far-reaching. Because the Project promotes an exchange of skills between visiting students and their host countries, the team received an introduction to Atmospheric Aerosols and Pollution Research at the Institute of Environmental Physics of the University of Tartu. The team recognizes the invaluable contributions of GLOBE Alumni leader Martin Pentson, of Estonia, their traveling companion and facilitator. The team will propose that GLOBE Alumni be created in every country to voice the student viewpoint in all aspects of GLOBE planning in order to ensure the vibrancy of the program. The group also recognizes the work of Estonia Country Coordinator, �lle Kikas, who was instrumental in the creation of this program and who proved to be an outstanding host.
In Germany, the focus was to introduce GLOBE to two very different kinds of schools: one, the Max Planck School, a Gymnasium, and the other, the Fritdjof-Nansen school, a Hauptschule technical school. Under the devoted guidance and direction of GLOBE country coordinator for Germany, Ms. Birgit Rademacher, and Mr. Mark M�ller with input from Prof. Dr. Horst Bayrhuber and fellows of the Leibniz Institute of Science Education at the University of Kiel, the German phase of the exchange was a great success. Here, the student team developed new teaching games such as "Role Play" which involved students in the study of CO2 emissions and global climate change. They invented a crossword puzzle game which demonstrated the role of GLOBE Protocols in Science Education and taught the pupils how to enter and visualize the data they had collected. Leonie noted that this particular exercise was most helpful because it helped shape the students' understanding of all the measurements they were taking down. The team showed students how to use the many GLOBE Atmospheric Protocols and even how to take the global position of their school using a GPS (Global Positioning System). They remained on hand during a GLOBE Teacher Training Workshop, where they led the cloud observation exercise. The end of the German phase was marked by a conference with students and teachers from both schools. Distinguished guest and renowned climatologist, Prof. Dr. Mojib Latif of the IFM Geomar, made a presentation on climate change that was well-received by all.
The Southern Phase of the project began in 11 August 2006, when Mari and Simone arrived in Cameroon. In Cameroon they are currently presenting the teaching materials they have developed over the course of their travels. Visiting a variety of educational institutions, from primary schools to teacher training colleges, they are testing out the impact, relevance and pedagogic significance of puzzles, role-playing, printed materials and seven games they have invented. Sa'a College was the site of a GLOBE training workshop which led to Sa'a becoming an official member of the GLOBE school community. Training workshops for current and prospective GLOBE primary school teachers were organized at the Government Teacher Training College in Buea. Workshops were also held in southwest Cameroon, in Bamenda in northwest Cameroon, and in Yaounde and Garoua. In addition, the group visited the following GLOBE schools: The Government Bilingual Secondary School in Bokova, Saker Baptist College and the Government High School in Limbe. Visits by the students to NGOs, such as the Living Earth Foundation in Yaounde and also the Botanic Gardens and Botanic Garden Environmental Education Department in Limbe, provided insight into successful environmental organizations in Cameroon. The students wish to thank their host in Cameroon, GLOBE country coordinator, Mme. Margaret Besong.
The ASA North/South Student Exchange Project has proven to be a valuable learning experience for all involved. The traveling students have emphasized the real-world impact of GLOBE studies. Leslie and Leonie stress that the results from student projects are being used by local authorities in Cameroon to resolve environmental problems initially discovered using GLOBE measurements and protocols. Clearly GLOBE students in Cameroon are making a positive contribution toward managing the environment in their home region.
In their travels, the student team observed the following:
- GLOBE protocols are essential tools for teaching environmental education.
- Without a doubt, students benefit from GLOBE lessons when carried out during designated classroom time.
- Teachers should be encouraged to use GLOBE protocols in the teaching of environmental science subject areas such as biology and geography, but should realize the value of the protocols in helping students to develop increasingly complex use of math and even language skills.
Leonie Njoumu plans to become an educational psychologist someday. She writes that the GLOBE exchange program has increased her knowledge of teaching methods in Europe and she hopes to incorporate her newly acquired skills in her future studies. "What we did with GLOBE protocols, and how to bring them to the understanding level of pupils was training for me as I aim to ameliorate the teaching methods and techniques in Cameroon. I am strongly persuaded that GLOBE Protocols are very good for a better understanding of our environment." The opportunity to experience life in another part of the world and to form strong friendships has been a lasting benefit of the program. Leonie continues, "I would strongly encourage other youths to apply for such exchange programs because it helps to learn from others and to share your knowledge, and to build and develop your capacity. I've gone back with many more friends and we will continue to have exchange of ideas and projects in the future."
25 January 2007