Teacher Feature: A Q&A with GLOBE Teacher Elodie Bourbon
FROM THE FIELD
Scientific communication requires precision and fluency in technical and mathematical terms, but Elodie Bourbon has other language issues to consider when teaching science using GLOBE protocols at Freeport High School, Long Island, New York. Elodie’s first language was French, but most of her students speak Spanish as their language of origin, and she conducts her lessons in English (often with an English as a second language instructional component). Elodie teaches two sections of Earth science for ESL students. She worked as a geologist for an environmental consulting firm before earning her teaching degree. Now in her fifth year at Freeport High, Elodie says, “I feel like I’m a second language teacher as well as a science teacher. Earth science is required for the Regents exams in New York.” She adds it serves as an extra ESL course. “My students take this class to get ready for the Regents.”
How Did you First Learn about GLOBE?
“When I went back to get credits to be a teacher at Queens College, Dr. Peter Schmidt introduced us to the GLOBE protocols at the end of our classes. We went outside to learn them. We were like students and at the end we received certification to use GLOBE with our own students. We did all of them...the atmosphere, water samples, oxygen, all of that. We learned about food webs and went into the pond to collect bugs. It was like Biology 101.
What was the Biggest Factor that Convinced you to Try GLOBE with your Students?
"In my first years of teaching, I was just trying to get ready. Then, in my third year, Freeport offered a grant to get equipment for our classrooms, so I sent in a proposal for the GLOBE equipment, like infrared thermometers. Then we got another grant to become trained in how to use the equipment, so we combined the two grants together. Our intro to science class is just starting with GLOBE this year, but I’ve been using it with my Earth Science students for two years now."
What were Some of the Challenges you Faced in Implementing GLOBE?
"At first, it was the number of students we had to manage, bringing them outside to collect data, and some of them were not crazy about it. We had about 25 in a group, and we were worried some would not pay attention. But most were pretty good! We would take the whole period to explain how to collect data, and with ESL classes we went outside every other day and eventually bring it down to 10 to 15 minutes at a time. We work on the school property, a baseball field and the pavement around it. I’m thinking of trying to ask permission to use the pond near the school. Maybe next year!"
Tell us About a Memorable Moment or Two that Exemplify the Success of GLOBE.
"A year after we went to our first Student Research Symposium (SRS), one of the students came to me with two of his friends and asked if they could do it again. I didn’t ask, they just came to me. They went and collected data on their own, went outside, asked me questions. The fact they came back on their own was amazing to me. I wasn’t thinking any of the students would do this."
What have been your Experiences with the Student Research Symposia?
Note: at the time of this interview, the CORVID-19 pandemic had not yet spread widely in the United States and teachers like Elodie were still making plans to travel for this spring’s Student Research Symposia. The symposia have now been redesigned to function remotely.
"We have been to two symposia so far. We went to Buffalo two years ago and last year to Boston. In Boston, I saw that one of my students, Christian, had three students [from other schools] who wanted to interview him [about his project], which was very rewarding. My students have just started working on their posters about surface temperatures for this year’s symposium, and for the first time we have brand new students participating. We are repeating what we did two years ago, comparing temperatures from concrete and grass, but we had some areas painted white and black [to provide some new data sources]."
If You Had One Minute to Convince Another Teacher to Try GLOBE, What Would you Say?
"The other ESL teachers see me using GLOBE, but they don’t ask about it. Neither do the older teachers. It’s the newer people who want to try. What is different about GLOBE is the fact that students go outside, actually collect real data, like a scientist would be able to use."
What Kind of Support from GLOBE has Helped You?
"Last year, Dr. Kevin Czajkowski,a professor at the University of Toledo, videoconferenced our whole class. [Dr. Czajkowski is a GLOBE Scientist for the Urban Heat Island Effect-Surface Temperature Field Campaign at the University of Toledo, the project to which Elodie’s students contribute their data.] We sent him all the data we collected, like a lab, and we talked to him on Skype. The students explained to him what they did, and they saw someone else looking at what they did. It made them feel more involved. When I started to do the surface temperature project, I emailed him to find out which thermometers to buy and ask his general advice. I went online to the GLOBE website, the measurement campaign, and his email was right there. And last year, when we started doing the poster, we sent him what we had, and he advised us before writing the poster."
What are Your Closing Thoughts about Your GLOBE Experience?
"My students like GLOBE and, sometimes, what they need and want to learn can be very basic. This year we did the atmosphere work with newcomers in the country who didn’t know the basics of weather. Sometimes, it’s as simple as learning the word for “cloud” in English."
C. Ralph Adler
News origin: United States of America