Stars and STEM Stories
Finland’s Utajärvi Upper Secondary School Celebrates 20 Years of Participation in The GLOBE Program
Since 1996 till 2016 Finland’s Utajärvi Upper Secondary School has been involved in The GLOBE Program and has earned the rare distinction of having taken and reported environmental data, without fail, for twenty straight years. Using data from the school’s Davis automated weather station (Vantage Pro model) students and teachers take the automated data and enter the data manually to the GLOBE database and the school database. Daily they record precipitation, temperature, pressure, wind, snow depth, and UV, with dedicated crews gathering the data even on weekends, all holidays and during summer vacation! This is a spectacular achievement. Very soon the school is set to achieve an astonishing milestone: 50,000 measurements!
On Friday, 26 May 2016, 50 students and 15 teachers and partners of Utajärvi Upper Secondary School gathered in UNESCO Rokua Geopark, Finland, to celebrate the remarkable achievement of twenty years of continuous participation in the GLOBE Program and 20 years of continuous data collection. The school invited guests of honor Deputy Chief of Mission, Mrs. Susan Elbow from the United States Embassy in Helsinki, as well as the GLOBE Finland Country Coordinator Mrs. Taina Ruuskanen. Mrs. Ruuskanen passed out awards for “Outstanding Teacher for 20 years Participation in GLOBE” to the former math and chemistry teacher Mrs. Marjaana Petäjä. Awards were also presented to teachers Liisa Virta and Aila Raappana. Biology and geography teacher Mr. Timo Pakonen presented an interesting account of the history of GLOBE’s Utajärvi School, the very first school in Utajärvi to do GLOBE. Municipality Manager Mr. Kyösti Juujärvi also commended the Utajärvi school students and teacher for their fine work, noting that GLOBE is benefiting the local community in several ways, for example having weather stations online in realtime.
Prior to the celebration day, students had drawn diagrams using their own weather data from the past 20 years. Meteorologist Mrs. Leena Neitiniemi-Upola and climate scientist Mrs. Taina Ruuskanen analysed the Utajärvi GLOBE data together with students in UNESCO Rokua Geopark and they discussed how it is possible to see some evidence of climate change in the data the school has recorded.
Students compared the growth of forests by using the annual rings of wood samples from different parts of the Finland and learned the importance of climate on growth of forest by Mr. Jukka Kaiponen, Forest Management. Post Doctoral Reseacher Mr. Pekka Rossi and Ph.D. Candidate Mr. Riku Eskelinen guided the students through several water analyses: pH, electrical conductivity, temperature, color, clearness and learned a lot about the formation of ground water in a unique kettle hole landscape formed during the ice age. The last ice age formed a very special landscape with various elements: eskers, kettle holes, dynes and shoreline embankments. Students came familiar with the soil development after the ice age and effects of Rokua’s sandy, dry soil on forest growth told by geographers Mr. Thomas Virta and Mrs. Tiia Possakka. The ice age created the largest and highest dune field in Finland which offers the growing niche for very rare plants found only in a few places in the entire country. The National Park biologist Mrs. Päivi Virnes taught the students to make vegetation plots and to take surface temperature measurements in order to show the effects of microclimate to the vegetation in very dry hillside compared to shady wet mire.
The celebration day proved to the community how the GLOBE vision has come true in Utajärvi. The students, teachers and scientists have connected to truly obverse and investigate the unique UNESCO Rokua Geopark area. Especially gratifying to the school community was the high level of enthusiastic experts who participated in the event including the presence of Deputy Chief of Mission Mrs. Susan Elbow. It was indeed a special day special for the Utajärvi school community knowing that their school is the most active GLOBE school in the whole of Finland.
This article was contributed by:
GLOBE Teacher/ GLOBE Trainer Mrs. Aila Raappana
GLOBE Teacher/ GLOBE Master Trainer Mrs. Liisa Virta