Dedicated GLOBE Students Are Partners in Science, Canton, OH, USA


Despite the image of white-lab-coated researchers toiling alone among bubbling flasks of mysterious liquids, real scientific research is conducted by all kinds of people in partnerships large and small. GLOBE teacher Marlene Bolea's fourth grader students know that first-hand because they view their own scientific work as partnerships among each other and with scientists around the world.

"I think GLOBE is important because we help scientists know and learn about the environment. That affects all of us. You never know what's going to happen outside, and we need to help figure it out," said fourth grader Brett Parr.

Bolea, who teaches fourth grade at Lake Cable Elementary School in Canton, OH, said she has largely abandoned strict textbook-based teaching in both science and math classes. She uses GLOBE as part of a hands-on curriculum instead. As a result, she believes her students gain a greater grasp of the concepts they encounter in their studies.

The graph at the right was created by Michael Schmidt, a math student, from atmosphere data gathered by Josh Young, Josh Saffell and Alexa Mallernee. It shows maximum, minimum and current temperatures for five consecutive days this past winter.

"They know what 20 degrees Celsius feels like," Bolea said. "In GLOBE we look at things for a longer time. They use real scientific terms and take real scientific measurements. To me that's more valuable because it's more meaningful to the children."

Student Alexa Mallernee put it in kid terms: "I think GLOBE is fun," she said. "I like science and it's cool to tell the scientists what's going on with the weather here."

Bolea said there is a wide range of abilities among her students, from some of the most advanced, in her math class, to others with learning and physical disabilities in other classes.

"My thought is, basically, everyone can do GLOBE," she said. "They all have different amounts they can do, but they can all do something. My math students are very aware of whose data it is that they use for their graphs because the data sheets are signed. They're very impressed with what their friends can do."

"It helps every single student's self-esteem to think they are able to do something so valuable," Bolea continued. "Especially with kids with disabilities, they're all working on GLOBE, they feel they are doing their part. It's teamwork. They've learned how to do things and they're pretty proud of their results."

Because Bolea's students take their GLOBE measurements seriously, there is rarely any complaint about collecting data, rain or shine. If there is, she reminds them that she herself goes out to the school on weekends and holidays so scientists will have an accurate picture of their study site.

"One time, one group forgot to go, and we said, 'There are all the scientists, waiting patiently, and there are no data," Bolea said. "They felt very bad."

Her students see GLOBE scientists as unseen partners in their work, and that helps her students take their own work seriously. That helps with learning, Bolea said.

Student comments reflect those ideas. "You're not pretending," Chris Reese said of the program. "You're doing it for real. We always need to be accurate, and that helps us to remember to check things. It is fun and we are very lucky to be able to do it."

Added Justin Rodak: "GLOBE is important because we are helping real scientists do their job and they can get done faster."

23 April 2001



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