From Earth's Atmosphere to the Deep Sea: Students and Teachers Collaborate in Thailand
On 6 - 14 January 2010, the Climate Change Education and Earth System Science (CES2) conference took place in Phuket, Thailand. GLOBE teachers and students participated in a variety of inquiry-based learning activities to inspire new ideas and develop relationships with peers and colleagues. Scientists and staff members investigated the relationship between clouds and climate, how seasons and biomes are changing around the world, and deep ocean ecosystems. The conference introduced innovative learning methods that teachers will implement into classroom projects. The events and discussions that took place during the week aimed to prepare teachers for GLOBE's Student Climate Research Campaign (SCRC), a two-year event set to launch in 2011, that will engage students from around the world in the process of investigating and researching their local climate and sharing their findings globally.
Teacher Training at the CES2 conference included a GLOBE FLEXE workshop, funded by GLOBE Thailand and The Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology (IPST), and strongly supported by Dr. Pornpun Waitayangkoon, the IPST President and GLOBE Thailand Country Coordinator, FLEXE Principal Investigator Liz Goehring, Eric Simms and Dr. Breea Govenar, from the project's home at Pennsylvania State University, worked closely with Dr. Krisanadej Jaroensutasinee and Dr. Mullica Jaroensutasinee, in preparation for the FLEXE Ecology Unit Pilot workshop, which drew the attendance of 20 Thai GLOBE teachers and 10 students from 12 Thai schools. Teachers and students experienced an exciting deep sea research methods training in extreme environments to engage students in a hands-on approach to science. Suhamon Inchan, a teacher in Ranong, Thailand believes FLEXE enhances her students' understanding of current classroom science lessons. Inchan explains, "We have learned the interesting relations between animals and the deep sea environment. This FLEXE Ecology Unit is very helpful for the 10th grade students since they are studying photosynthesis in class right now. Having a chance to study chemosynthesis really brings them to a deeper understanding about from where Earth's life forms draw their energy. They have learned that not every ecosystem begins with a plant as its primary producer. We truly enjoy learning about how animals can live in such extreme environments in the deep sea area."
The FLEXE Ecology unit draws on examples of the extreme environments of hydrothermal vents and cold seeps and introduces these attributes to school students. Peerawit Koad, a 12th grade Thai student expressed, "We gain new experiences from the FLEXE Ecology Unit Pilot workshop. It is so good to have a chance to talk with deep sea scientists. I think this experience has stimulated our interest in science. We gain new knowledge on the deep sea environment and now have a better understanding of how scientists study ecosystems in remote areas."
In addition, Dr. Elena Sparrow, GLOBE Program Seasons and Biomes ESSP Scientist and U.S. Partner, and Dr. Leslie Gordon and Martha Kopplin from the Seasons and Biomes Project at the University of Alaska Fairbanks also worked with Walailak staff including Dr. K. Jaroensutasinee, Dr. M. Jaroensutasinee, and Siriwan Wongkoon to prepare a mosquito research presentation for the conference. Thai GLOBE teachers and students presented a total of ten research projects regarding how mosquito larvae abundance and distribution relate to local atmospheric conditions. Entire classrooms participated in the mosquito and atmosphere research investigations while a couple of selected student representatives from each class presented their class' research. Dr. Krisanadej Jaroensutasinee and his team, who developed the Thai mosquito investigation protocols included in the Seasons and Biomes Project, also developed a mosquito Web site database that Thai students and teachers utilize to perform data entry as well as data visualization in real-time online.
The CES2 conference encouraged International collaboration by involving other countries such as India and the United States. Thirty-one participants traveled to the conference from India, including one principal, four IES teachers, and 22 students from five GLOBE schools. Students from India presented GLOBE projects and partook in other activities which are conducted as part of GLOBE protocols in schools. Prior to the conference, Dr. Elizabeth Moses, GLOBE U.S. Partner and member of SCUBAnauts International management and leadership team, along with Julie Galkiewicz and Libby Carnahan, education officers from two different Florida, USA Chapters of SCUBAnauts International, corresponded with Dr. Krisanadej Jaroensutasinee and Dr. Mullica Jaroensutasinee, from Walailak University and GLOBE Thailand, to network students across the globe. These preparations inspired the conception of a teleconference between U.S. and Thai students to exchange findings on coral reef research. The coral research collaboration between 12 Florida SCUBAnaut students and 10 Thai GLOBE students provides a perfect demonstration of how global alliance benefits the classroom. SCUBAnaut students, from the Tampa Bay and Tarpons Springs Chapters, actively perform coral restoration and evaluate the condition of coral reefs in Florida and throughout the Caribbean. Information on this topic from NASA, NOAA, and NSF assist students to gain deeper understandings of their research findings. SCUBAnaut activities include estimating fish abundance, the amount of living coral covering the bottom of the ocean, and the prevalence of coral bleaching and disease. In addition, SCUBAnaut students collect atmospheric and hydrologic data for their GLOBE research projects.
The Thai coral group, lead by Dr. Krisanadej Jaroensutasinee, developed Thai coral protocols for school research projects in Thailand. Thai GLOBE students estimated coral diversity and dead and living coral percentages, in addition to deploying light and temperature sensors in the Ngai, Ma and Raja Islands located in the Andaman Sea. SCUBAnaut and Thai GLOBE students presented their coral research findings via Skype, a virtual conference tool, in a successful beginning to a collaboration that will allow the next generation of scientists to share methods and compare data observations regarding local coral reef environments on opposite sides of the globe. The students' incorporation of local customs, including a wonderful dance demonstration by the Thai students, added another dimension to the exchange, increasing appreciation for each other's culture.
A special thanks to GLOBE Thailand Country Coordinator Dr. Pornpun Waitayangkul and IPST for their overwhelming support in these workshops. As conserving and protecting the world's coral reefs requires a global effort, the GLOBE Program hopes that students all over the world will benefit from GLOBE Thailand's contribution and that this project inspires teachers to incorporate innovative methods of data exchange in the classroom.
Visit the GLOBE Thailand Website.
18 February 2010