NSF and the Omar Dengo Foundation Bring WV Trainers and Costa Rican Teachers Together

Forty Costa Rican educators and four West Virginia Trainers participated in a four-day Introduction to GLOBE's Atmosphere, Hydrology, and GIS protocols near Cartago, Costa Rica, on 16-19 April 2008. The event was sponsored locally by the Omar Dengo Foundation (ODF) which coordinates GLOBE in Costa Rica and the Integrated Design for Geoscience Education (IDGE) program funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The IDGE Program is run through Marshall University in partnership with Fairmont State and the NASA IV&V Facility Educator Resource Center in West Virginia, USA. The goal of the program is to increase scientific knowledge, to teach the skills necessary for post-secondary education in the sciences, and to promote careers in geoscience among minority, under-privileged, and first-generation college graduates currently underrepresented in geoscience fields. Each summer, IDGE runs a 6-week Introduction to Environmental Inquiry course with students participating in the Marshall University Upward Bound program (UB), which specifically targets underrepresented students and mentors them to achieve a post-secondary education. Environmental Inquiry uses GLOBE protocols and learning activities to integrate student technology tools and data collection in the creation of student-designed research projects. Highly interested and motivated UB students who complete the introductory course will be selected to participate in an advanced program:

International Environmental Inquiry. This course builds on the students' prior knowledge of environmental protocols and provides them with training on and access to scientific probeware and Geographic Information System (GIS), enabling them to increase the quantity and quality of their measurements significantly by providing a means of comparing and analyzing geo-spatial data. Additionally, advanced students collaborate with GLOBE students from Costa Rica who will be using the same equipment. The culmination of this project will be an educational expedition during which selected UB students and facilitators will travel to Costa Rica, with the Holbrook Travel's education program, in order to complete ecological field studies. IDGE Principal Investigator Dr. Cartwright explained, "This expedition will allow students in both West Virginia and Costa Rica to gain first-hand knowledge of vastly different environmental parameters and to realize the international responsibility that we have as scientists and citizens of our planet."

The workshop was led by WV IDGE facilitators Dr. Tina Cartwright (IDGE PI), Dr. Deb Hemler, Dr. Harold Blanco, and Mr. Todd Ensign on the same tools to be used by the UB students completing the International Environmental Inquiry course this summer. In addition to organizing all aspects of the GLOBE training, Melania Brenes of ODF also coordinated sessions presented by local scientists Oscar Brenes and Ximena Miranda, former Country Coodinator of GLOBE in Costa Rica, on the use of macro invertebrates to indicate stream health.

The teachers learned how to measure atmospheric and hydrology protocols along with how to calibrate and use Pasco probeware in the field and how to analyze data using My World GIS. The goal of the workshop was to ensure that collaboration and data sharing between GLOBE students in both countries would be consistent, comparable, and relevant. Pairs of Costa Rican teachers from 16 unique schools participated in the workshop alongside 8 regional advisors who will follow the program to ensure its successful implementation. GLOBE teacher María Auxiliadora Portuguez Campos expressed the sentiments of both teachers and trainers, "For my school, my students and I, it would be an honor to be able to share GLOBE data with you when you come to Costa Rica. . . and for our students in GLOBE to share with yours. Thank you for everything and I feel that I already have a new friend in West Virginia." While we may speak different languages and live in different countries, we all communicate concern and value for our planet through GLOBE.

5 June 2008


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