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Community Spotlight: John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin is a long-time friend of GLOBE Program Office (GPO) staff and GLOBE partners around the world. Currently an Education Program Manager at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Education in Washington D.C., he first became involved with the Program more than 10 years ago, as a member of the Science Team.

McLaughlin came to GPO, then located in Washington D.C., in 2002 following his graduate education in ocean engineering from Dartmouth College. He had been awarded a National Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship to spend a year with a U.S. federal agency or program working in the areas of ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and the national policy decisions affecting those resources and fortuitously selected the GLOBE Program as his sponsoring organization. Involved in multiple facets of the GLOBE Program, including development of curriculum and materials; presentation of workshops, conferences, and events; and programmatic decision-making, McLaughlin helped shape the trajectory of GLOBE.

In 2003, McLaughlin participated in the third GLOBE Learning Expedition (GLE) in Šibenek, on the Adriatic coast of Croatia, a pivotal experience that greatly influenced him. GLE's are organized every few years in order to provide students from around the world the opportunity to present their GLOBE research projects, engage in field studies and establish friendships that will enhance prospects for future GLOBE collaborations. Teachers participate in professional development sessions, share innovative ideas for teaching and build connections for research efforts between schools.

"The quality of the student research that was presented there and the enthusiasm for learning about Earth science was extraordinary. In addition, it was downright fun." said McLaughlin. The conference ended with participants gleefully dancing a conga line through the streets of the beautiful, historic seaside city.

McLaughlin's GLOBE experience in Croatia and in the Program Office provided him with valued experience in working with an international community, an opportunity often echoed by members of the GLOBE community. "While tourism can be a wonderful thing, working directly with people from other regions is an ideal way to learn about their culture and thereby better understand your own." McLaughlin added, "I knew I was being exposed to a wonderful opportunity, but it is only now reflecting on that time that I realize how much it shaped me."

McLaughlin's GLOBE experience provided him with exposure to many ways of thinking and operating and broadened his horizons. It affected how he approaches issues, both professionally and personally. Collaborating with groups that do not share a common primary language pushed him to strive for clarity in how he communicates. "It specifically forced me to talk slower, something that did not come naturally to this native of the Northeastern United States." he noted.

In addition to the many ways that GLOBE has been of benefit to him personally, McLaughlin credits GLOBE with unique and powerful benefits to the students it serves.

"The program is based on a model of bringing students, teachers, scientists and partners from across the planet together to perform authentic science to broaden our understanding of that planet. GLOBE makes the student experience meaningful," said McLaughlin thoughtfully. "Students are empowered to learn by truly doing science. The impact of their work is felt well beyond the walls of their classrooms.  At the same time they have the opportunity to participate in cultural sharing with a global community. That is an opportunity to be taken and valued."

type: globe-news

News origin: GLOBE Implementation Office