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International Ocean Institutes in U.S. and Costa Rica Join GLOBE Family to Advance Environmental Monitoring and Cultural Exchanges

In the spring of 2011 the International Ocean Institute (IOI) in the U.S. and Costa Rica joined forces to launch an environmental monitoring and cultural exchange between students in Costa Rica and west Florida.  This project was initiated by young women who had participated in the University of South Florida College of Marine Science Oceanography Camp for Girls (OCG) and wanted to extend their environmental learning with youth in the Caribbean.  The GLOBE Program, with its proven record of providing carefully designed and clearly communicated protocols, was selected as the perfect foundation on which to build the youth-based science program.

IOI Costa Rica facilitated the recruitment of three schools and their teachers to participate in this exchange with OCG Alumni Association. The program started with virtual exchanges, between the U.S. students and  two of the three schools that IOI Costa Rica recruited, Escuela Cientifica (south Pacific region), Escuela San Bernardino (north Caribbean region), and UNA North Pacific campus. The virtual exchanges were followed by face-to-face GLOBE trainings.

In May 2011, USF project leaders, U.S. Partner Teresa Greely and her training team, Angela Lodge and Ana Munoz, traveled to Costa Rica to meet the IOI participants, teachers and students from the three participating schools in person and provide GLOBE Atmospheric and Hydrology training. During Phase 1 of the program the focus for both groups has been on environmental data collection.

The following comments are from a few of the U.S. students who have been participating in the program:

"Not only has GLOBE brought me in contact with young students in Costa Rica, but I've become much closer to my Oceanography Camp for Girls alumni family." (Allie Nall OCG Alum 2004, College Graduate)

"As a part of GLOBE, I have been able to continue what I've been taught and continue to help nourish my love for the ocean and all that lives in it." (KC Shelton, OCG Alum 2010, HS Jr.)

"I can't wait to see the long-term results of this work with respect to the environment and the OCG ladies that show up each week to make it happen."  (Melanie MacBain, OCG Alum 2010, HS Jr.)

At the end of 2011, Escuela San Bernardino, which is a rural single-teacher school, continued to rigorously implement the program. This GLOBE team is led by fourth grade children (about 10 years old) and its leader is Ms. Odilie Rojas, a very encouraging teacher. IOI Costa Rica Alejandro Gutierrez Echeverría and Laura Elena Segura, oversee and coordinate the interactions between the two groups. 

Most recently, students from the Costa Rica Group won the regional Science Fair by using  their GLOBE atmospheric data in their project. Now they are waiting to participate in the National Science Fair.  These first experiences taught us that the key factor for a GLOBE team to work and to last is the motivation of its leader.

IOI Costa Rica continues expanding the program and two new teams  were formed: the Colegio Laboratorio de Puntarenas and Escuela de Lepanto, both situated in the North Pacific.

Plans for Phase 2 include regularly scheduled SKYPE sessions between both groups to review and discuss the data collected and identify a shared environmental research project of interest to youth in each country. The long-term goal is to encourage youth to continually contribute to the ongoing process of identifying environmental challenges and solutions within their communities, by drawing from their peers at home and in other countries. "It is our hope that they will discover common grounds not only intellectually and environmentally but also socially and culturally between countries that share the same ocean," stated Teresa Greely.

These participating IOI-Costa Rica students join the larger GLOBE Costa Rica family of students and teachers. GLOBE Costa Rica is a dynamic program offering opportunities every year for students and teachers to expand their skills and collaborations. GLOBE Costa Rica joined the GLOBE Program on Earth Day, April 22, 1996, and is led by Country Coordinator, Roberto Quiros and hosted at the Omar Dengo Foundation.

Read about the Biociencia 2012 Fair in Costa Rica.

24 October 2012