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University of Alaska at Fairbanks

There is constant activity, and respect for the value of different cultures and long-distance learning, at GLOBE's franchise at the University of Alaska - Fairbanks this summer. The northernmost US partnership held a Train-the-Trainer workshop and a regular Teacher Training workshop in the space of a few weeks. Also, as prominently noted in the local newspaper, Franchise Coordinator Elena Sparrow won a million-dollar grant to conduct additional training that will link GLOBE studies with "Native ways of knowledge."

The Train-the-Trainer workshop collected more than 40 educators from Alaska and as far away as Massachusetts and Florida who will now spread out to train teachers how to lead students in fieldwork and inquiry-based science. "It was wonderful to have both Alaskans and people from the 'lower 48' working and learning together," said Dr. Sparrow. "GLOBE's primary trainers helped us improve our understanding of how best to teach the program, and we shared ideas on teaching in general."

Armed with new trainers, it seemed almost automatic, said Sparrow, to quickly follow that by training several dozen more Alaskan teachers in GLOBE in early August.

Sparrow, widely known for her high energy level, won a $1 million grant from the National Science foundation to instruct more Alaskan teachers in GLOBE while also studying the ways in which Native people examine their local environment. GLOBE trainer Leslie Gorden and new GLOBE teacher Sidney Stephens are co-investigators on the grant. "This is combining Western science with Native ways of knowing," said Sparrow. "And we must include the people from the geographical outer reaches in new learning."

Indeed, many of the teachers being trained are from towns such as Ketchikan, Barrow and Mentasta, each many miles from Fairbanks. "Right now, the teachers travel physically," said Sparrow. "Later, thanks to GLOBE, their students will able to travel much easier and faster on the Internet, and work with students not only in the lower 48 but also around the world. This is a tremendous experience and learning tool for Alaskan children. And students elsewhere will learn more about Alaska."

26 July 2000