GLOBE Schools Team Up with the Smithsonian Institute to Study Effects of Climate Change
Our Lady of the Lake University, Crestview Elementary, and Carnahan Elementary are collaborating with local city government and the river authority to conduct GLOBE protocols measurements and report on atmospheric and land cover observations as part of a long-term study with the Smithsonian Institute's Tree Banding Project. Formally named "SHOUT," the tree-banding project is an educational outreach program that will collect the reported data over the next three to four years. The goal of the long-term study is to determine the effect local climate change has on the growth of trees. Students will be using GLOBE atmosphere and biometry protocols to accompany the tree band measurements on selected trees. Tree bands "dendrometers" are installed by the students, located by GPS as a study site and registered with the Smithsonian using a unique feature number secured to the tree. The dendrometer expands as the tree grows allowing the students to take a linear measurement reflecting the trees growth.
Josh Falk, Education Research Specialist at the Smithsonian says, "The measurements collected during the spring and fall period (green up and green down) are of keen interest to the Smithsonian's study, however, more measurements are better." The long-term atmospheric measurements of the local weather will determine the climate and the climate in turn will determine the tree's growth response. Falk stresses the idea that long-term observations and measurements are needed when studying climate and tree growth. The Smithsonian research team, headed by Dr. Jess Parker, encourages the students to come up with other local investigations and experiments while observing and reporting the tree band data.
Kent Page and Augustine Frkuska, teachers from the two elementary schools involved in the project, are both GLOBE trainers and hope to train and involve more teachers and students in conducting GLOBE protocols in conjunction with the Smithsonian's tree banding process. Mr. Frkuska contends, "With the variety of protocols teachers will have learned after GLOBE training, and the many science and inquiry concepts suggested by GLOBE, coming up with other types of investigations will not be a problem. We see many potential research projects that can be derived from the experience and are excited with the process and opportunity of getting students and teachers to collaborate with the different institutes and scientists." By participating, the students will be conducting scientific research on important and current events and issues. "Having the students involved with scientists from GLOBE and an iconic institute like the Smithsonian is a win - win situation," said Mr. Page.
Mr. Page and Mr. Frkuska are also Project Learning Tree facilitators. They view the tree banding study as a unique opportunity to use it as a "lynch pin" to anchor the content and academic program of PLT in the primary and secondary schools in the United States. Both contend that this educational triad will establish an awareness, stewardship and pride in the school's community. Once the teachers are taught how to use and integrate the PLT's information and lessons in with their own district's or state's mandated curriculums, they will recognize just how advantageous and unique this opportunity really is. The students will become involved with research, observe and record scientific data and collaborate with scientist and local governmental agencies. They will not only learn and be well informed about trees and the role they play in our earth's ecosystem and community's resource, but they will be able to form educated opinions and make important decisions about their future.
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19 December 2012