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Mobile Earth and Space Observatory - GLOBE Partnership brings STEM learning to underserved rural areas in Colorado

The Mobile Earth and Space Observatory (MESO), supported by the CIRES Education & Outreach GLOBE Partnership, is on a mission to bring a unique STEM learning experience to schools and communities around Colorado, especially in underserved rural areas. 

Meet Gianna Sullivan, Director of Education for the Mobile Earth + Space Observatory to learn how the GLOBE Program is taking their innovative program to the next level.

Describe MESO and how GLOBE supports your program’s mission.

The Mobile Earth + Space Observatory is a unique ‘science center on wheels’.
The Mobile Earth + Space Observatory is
a unique ‘science center on wheels’.

MESO is a “science center on wheels," and thanks to a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, MESO is working deeply with five communities across Colorado focused on content related to the "Importance of Water." These are full week deployments that include daytime classroom programming, after school opportunities, evening star parties, and culminates in a community science festival at the end of the week. Students interact with scientist educators as they explore topics and engage in learning that augments the schools' curriculum on the water cycle, watersheds, water purification and water conservation. Students explore Earth & space science using telescopes, and other scientific instruments. As part of this Water Week, students spend a day working with GLOBE hydrosphere protocols - specifically testing water for Nitrates, pH levels, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and macro invertebrates. As an extension, each school installs a weather station on their campus to collect weather data over the year.

What is your favorite part about the MESO-GLOBE partnership?

My favorite part of the MESO-GLOBE partnership is the synergy of wanting students to experience what it means to be a scientist, including collecting and using real data. Our organizations have overlapping goals of creating scientific opportunities for students - particularly those with less access to science, scientific equipment and visible pathways to STEM-based careers.  Our connection with rural Colorado communities offers opportunities to learn more about Colorado, beyond the urban areas, by measuring our climate and getting data from the corners of the state. This really addresses the shared goals of MESO & GLOBE.

What are some highlights  that illustrate the benefit of including GLOBE protocols as part of MESO’s activities?

GLOBE hydrology protocols during a MESO Water Week deployment
Students observe the water turbidity
using GLOBE hydrology protocols
during a MESO Water Week deployment
to their community.

MESO’s theme with these 5 communities is the "Importance of Water." MESO’s work engaging with students for a full week on everything from watersheds to water conservation brings the GLOBE hydrosphere protocols into context and sets the framework for these discussions. When the students are learning about the bigger picture around water, and how it affects them locally, it brings focus to the pH, turbidity, nitrate, dissolved oxygen and macro-invertebrate protocols that they are working on in tandem. So MESO brings a framework for understanding and GLOBE protocols give students the immediate opportunity to apply this knowledge and to dive deeply with experimentation and scientific equipment. Together the MESO - GLOBE combined opportunity results in an impactful and relevant experience for the participating students.

How does MESO-GLOBE support teacher instruction and student learning?

This MESO-GLOBE partnership is able to give opportunities to participating teachers that they would not have otherwise gotten, with a specific prioritization on scientific instrumentation. MESO is reaching into these communities supported by the EPA grant that was written to have a sub-grant supporting each of the five schools.  The first half of this sub-grant was used by the teachers to travel to Metro State University in Denver for professional development, specifically to learn GLOBE Hydrosphere and Atmosphere protocols. During this week-long experience teachers connected with other rural MESO teachers with the intent there would be resource and data sharing in the future, as part of a support system. Jennifer Taylor at CIRES, using her additional background knowledge as a middle school teacher, spent time with each teaching team, helping them think through how to embed this seamlessly into their curriculum plans. This took much of the fear out of the process.

The second half of the sub-grant was directed towards purchasing the GLOBE protocol kits, tools and materials that the teachers would need in their classrooms in order to be successful with these protocols. Following the MESO deployment Jennifer has made sure teachers know they can reach out to her moving forward with any GLOBE questions or concerns.   

How can GLOBE classrooms and partners connect with MESO?

Solar viewing on MESO at the Aug 21, 2017 Great American Solar Eclipse.
Solar viewing on MESO at the Aug 21,
2017 Great American Solar Eclipse.

Recognizing that many schools do not have the ability to acquire sophisticated scientific equipment or transport students on prolonged STEM related field trips, The Mobile Earth + Space Observatory is available to bring these opportunities across Colorado. If you are interested in booking this mobile STEM lab, or finding out if it will be in your part of the state please contact MESO at

Additionally MESO staff partner with external scientists multiple times each year to offer live 2-way interactive, distance learning programs. These opportunities connect students directly with scientists doing research, to give students an authentic window into scientific careers and ongoing science. MESO can also be reached through our MESO Facebook page.  


type: globe-news

News origin: United States of America