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Water, Hub of GLOBE Activities in Costa Rica

Scientists by a river

Costa Rica, one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, is implementing the GLOBE Program as part of the Educational Information Technology Program MED-FOD, a national project initiated in 1988 through a joint effort between the Ministry of Public Education (MEP) and the Omar Dengo Foundation (Fundación Omar Dengo - FOD), a private non-profit organization that has served as the country coordinating office since Costa Rica joined the GLOBE Program on Earth Day, 23 April 1996. The primary objective of GLOBE in Costa Rica is to provide public school students with opportunities to develop independent scientific thinking through research projects examining the relationship between science and local environmental problems, top priority being the care of water. This work is done through the development of learning activities and the application of GLOBE Hydrology Protocols. In addition, the Watershed Dynamics Project, a GLOBE Earth System Science Project (ESSP), was implemented widely throughout the country, having been translated and adapted to local priorities using the Digital Atlas of Costa Rica and with the support of many national scientists.

Scientists researching in a river

Watershed studies and the development of environmental awareness surrounding the flow of water through the watershed are the focus of GLOBE activities in Costa Rica. These activities allow students to investigate and form critical and educated opinions about the use that is given to watersheds in their communities. In this way, students approach this science not only as a learning tool, but also as a tool for quality environmental monitoring with the potential of taking social, political, and legal action.

Learning activities related to the Watershed Dynamics Project in Costa Rica are complemented by the GLOBE Student Climate Research Campaign, Operation RubyThroat: The Hummingbird Project Protocol, and the development of GLOBE Alumni activities.

With the goal of improving both the teaching and scientific skills of teachers who are part of the GLOBE Program, an intensive training was conducted from 17-19 August 2010 in the facilities of the Omar Dengo Foundation (FOD) in San Jose, Costa Rica. Objectives of this event were to:

  • Identify different kinds of aquatic macroinvertebrates;
  • Interpret the presence and/or absence of certain species of aquatic invertebrates as indicators of water quality;
  • Learn to calibrate and make effective use of the Explorer GLX;
  • Identify the important issues found in each project in order to formulate a good research report;
  • Recognize the scope of data analysis done by the students to promote solutions to environmental problems, and;
  • Strengthen skills in the use of the Digital Atlas of Costa Rica.

Scientists by water.

The training that took place on the 17th of August centered around a field trip taken to a river on the outskirts of the city focused on taking and analyzing water samples. Professional development activities on the 18th were dedicated to the use and calibration of the GLX Explorer to collect physical and chemical data of the water samples. This equipment was used to collect data and make comparisons between two different rivers, one clear and another polluted. The last day of the training was dedicated to providing information about environmental laws that could be used as a tool for solving environmental problems. This day was devoted also to working with the Digital Atlas of Costa Rica, a tool of the Watershed Dynamics Project, and to sharing tips and encouraging teachers to carry out field investigations with students.

Group by the water.

The training was accomplished through the collaboration of experts: including Mg. Sc. Monika Springer, of the Costa Rica University and Aquabiolab, a specialist in taxonomy and insect ecology, biologic monitoring, water quality studies using bioindicators, and conservation and management of Continental Aquatic Environment; Mr. Alejandro Esquivel, specialist in the use of the GLX Explorer, from the Selva Verde Lodge, administered by Holbrook Travel; and Lic. Esteban Monge, a specialist in environmental law and member of the NGO Environmental Law Center and of Natural Resources (CEDARENA).

Experiments in the water

Teachers were so anxious to attend this event that many paid their own expenses and offered the use of their personal vehicles. A total of 27 people were trained: 6 educational consultants, 10 computer education teachers, 9 science teachers, 1 soil dynamics teacher, and 1 social studies teacher. These teachers came from 10 educational institutions in 5 provinces: the Gregorio José Ramírez School, the Alfaro Ruiz Grammar School and the Grammar School of San Rafael in the Alajuela Province; the Grammar School of Tarrazú in the San José Province; the Grammar School of Paraiso and the Aljandro Quesada Grammar School of the Cartago Province; the Institute of Guanacaste in the Guanacaste Province; the Grammar School of Santa Rita in the Limon Province; and the School of Technical Professions of Puerto Jiménez and Judas of Chomes Grammar School in the Puntarenas Province.

Students in these schools are currently working on impressive GLOBE research projects. According to Costa Rica Country Coordinator Roberto Quiros Araya, "Since children are the future of humanity, it is of vital importance that they gain awareness of, and learn to evaluate, the most vital resource for all life on our planet and for all human activitieswater!" Congratulations to the GLOBE students, teachers and scientists in Costa Rica for sharing their on-going research projects made possible by the Ministry of Public Education and the Omar Dengo Foundation.

23 February 2011