Stars and STEM Stories
From Butterflies to Trees... From Trees to the Panamá Regional Meeting
In 2022, Prof. María Marta Gutiérrez (Argentina) enrolled herself in a GLOBE Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) course called “Butterflies and environmental variables." She never imagined that “Butterflies could lead us to Panamá." At that time, Gutiérrez was focused on acquiring practice and knowledge about GLOBE protocols in order to share these skills with her students. That course in 2022 was organized by GLOBE trainers Andrea Ventoso, Claudia Caro and Dario Greni, among others, and was coordinated by the Regional LAC Office.
As a final product, they needed to present a project. So Gutiérrez, with other colleagues from Perú and Paraguay, designed one. Unfortunately and due to personal issues at the time they couldn't go forward; but in September 2022, Gutiérrez started training a group of volunteer students at school to use GLOBE protocols in the observation of butterflies. During lunch, they went to their school garden, took notes, photos, cloud and air temperature measurements for three months. They realized that butterflies were always "outside," near the exterior fence and near a ditch. There were native plants on that border; the butterflies were not interested in coming inside their constantly mowed school garden -- they just needed plants “not education.”
They group decided to create a “biological corridor" in December 2022 in order to restore a small area near the fence. The “Stop Mowing” method was introduced in March 2023 with a completely different land cover in that new space.
Meanwhile in February 2023, the GLOBE LAC Regional Office had started webinars to inspire students and teachers to participate in a Regional Tree Campaign for Latin America and Caribbean countries. Gutiérrez and her group signed up and started learning about new procedures. In March 2023, they were very fortunate to receive the visit of GLOBE Regional Coordinator, Mariana Savino and Master trainer, Ana Prieto. They came to Gutiérrez's school (St. Luke´s College Escobar, Buenos Aires, Argentina) invited by another GLOBE teacher, María Inés Amato, and provided a great training session about the use of The GLOBE Program's app, GLOBE Observer. This important visit inspired the group. They, as teachers, received an impulse to develop new research works and students received the clear message: environmental studies are in their hands.
Gutiérrez decided that Senior 4 students could start a preliminary study of the trees in their neighborhood when she realized that they were not able to distinguish a Poplar from a Pine. At the same time, Senior 3 students could carry out an investigation about the changes in land cover in their recently created “biological corridor" in order to study biodiversity changes, including all butterflies' behavior and presence there.
The Tree campaign went forward and Gutiérrez's students were engaged in a special way. They worked as a team and divided areas and duties. The students quickly understood it was a great opportunity to participate in a global campaign. Gutiérrez says, "I remembered their enthusiasm in the field and their glittering eyes when they received a NASA email thanking their clouds observations. They made hundreds of measurements!"
The Tree campaign took a special part of her classes and in every webinar Gutiérrez had new opportunities of learning and participation. When the GLOBE LAC Regional Office opened the possibility to present research reports in order to travel to the Panamá 2023 Regional Meeting, Gutiérrez decided that Senior 4 students were prepared to do so. She asked them if they were interested because all of them must give the extra mile to do so; they accepted! One of the 6 selected reports were theirs! That next month, Felipe Sanes and Gutiérrez were sitting in the initial session on 11 October. Gutiérrez could only describe it as "amazing."
Things occurred fast but all the time GLOBE was there. Andrea Ventoso, National Coordinator from Uruguay, offered her guidance and assistance to correct Gutiérrez's students' report and poster. Mariana Savino and her assistant Josefina worked day and night coordinating flights, permissions and activities for students. Ana Prieto, Claudia Caro and Ventoso planned sessions in detail. The Panamá group was waiting for them with an exceptional local organization!
The Regional LAC meeting in Panamá was a great success not only because of the opportunity for students to be there, the feeling that their contributions were appreciated, but also because of the atmosphere of teamwork that they could feel during those days. There are no specific GLOBE Protocols to measure wellness, cordiality and team spirit -- but Gutiérrez is sure that the final survey among participants could give an idea of the rates of gratitude and happiness experienced in this meeting.
The incredible organization of activities for students and adults lead to an outstanding experience of intercultural and scientific topics at the same time. Meeting people from other countries that feel the same commitment for our planet was unique.
Felipe and Gutiérrez went back to Argentina with their bags full of global experiences, full of human relationships and above all, full of gratitude. Gutiérrez says, "Thank you GLOBE Community! Thank you GLOBE Program for the opportunity to improve our development. Thank you butterflies for leading us to Panamá!"
Images courtesy María Marta Gutiérrez.