Teacher Feature: A Q&A with GLOBE Teacher Hannah VanScotter
FROM THE FIELD
Hannah VanScotter teaches a variety of science classes at Jefferson Montessori Academy, a K-12 school in Carlsbad, New Mexico, USA: seventh and eighth grade integrated science, seventh grade Earth and space science, ninth grade biology, tenth grade physics, and eleventh grade chemistry. She has been using GLOBE protocols for three years.
How Do You Use GLOBE in Your Teaching?
"I implement GLOBE with about 40 students in seventh and eighth grade, and 20 biology students in ninth grade. I introduce students to GLOBE through the atmosphere protocols, collecting data on a weather station. Friday is Club Day, basically an enrichment, so we have a GLOBE club students sign-up to do individual projects…six students, five projects.
One project is trying to see a connection between the amount of carbon dioxide and aerosols in the air. A soil fertility project is comparing the Pecos River water quality to soil fertility. Another project is studying a one-meter deep trench to look at soil fertility at different levels. One is kind of a continuum from last year, where students are looking at the amount of nitrates and dissolved oxygen before and after the Brantley Lake Dam. And one project is studying aerosols and humidity in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, using a sun photometer.
We’re an oil town, so we have students and parents who are wealthy, and students who are very poor and have been in poverty for generations.
This year, all of my GLOBE students are female and the majority are Hispanic…pretty unusual for a science project."
How Did You First Hear about GLOBE?
"I first heard about it when I was on maternity leave with my first daughter. I came back and the principal said, 'hey, we’re a GLOBE school now and you’re going to do training for it.' Christy Wall, the New Mexico GLOBE person who helps all the teachers, brought us all the equipment. She was open to speaking with my students and I said, 'yeah, that would be awesome.' She helped us figure out the equipment…the bat box, weather station, barometer, thermometer, precipitation gauge. Now we’re using the hydrosphere and pedosphere because our students were interested in doing more than just atmosphere."
What was the Biggest Factor that Convinced You to Try GLOBE with Your Students?
"Other than the fact I was told we were doing GLOBE as a school, I’m a scientist. I came from industry into teaching, so I have a different mindset from other teachers. This is real data students can actually collect in real time. My background is geology, I was a well site geologist on active drilling rigs for the oil industry. I went to Eastern Washington University, went to Western Washington University to study geology, and got my Masters in Secondary Education from Grand Canyon University online. I also just finished my K-12 leadership degree."
What were Some of the Challenges You Faced Implementing GLOBE?
"Trying to find the right site and getting the weather station up and running! I had set up a weather site at a previous school and went through three months of college campus bureaucracy. Our station here fell over three times because of the winds we have here, so my students and I concreted it three times!"
Tell Us about a Memorable Moment that Exemplifies the Success of GLOBE.
"I think taking them to the Student Research Symposium. It was out of their comfort zone. Some had never left Carlsbad, never mind New Mexico, and we went all the way to Colorado. It gave students an opportunity they might never have otherwise. It was a memorable life experience for them, especially defending their science to scientists. The first year, eleven students and I went to Boulder and had to fly from Carlsbad to Albuquerque on a tiny little plane then a second flight to Denver and a bus to Boulder. They had to ride public transportation and some of them were terrified. I grew up in Seattle, so people on buses don’t freak me out. They saw there are many different types of people in the world, not just the ones they see in Carlsbad."
If You had One Minute to Convince another Teacher to Try GLOBE, What Would You Say?
"I would say they would be really surprised by the students who get involved in GLOBE and start caring about science classes, and their classes in general. I’ve had students in GLOBE who were behavior issues in classes before. GLOBE gave them a challenge, something to focus on. The fact that it’s real data, reporting to real scientists, is a really big influence. They care about the data. If they don’t do it right, they want to redo it."
How Do You Assess the Effect, or Impact, of GLOBE on Your Students?
"New Mexico just adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, so that’s been a huge shift in what’s expected in the classroom. GLOBE really fits with the NGSS standards. I’m comfortable that I’m doing things I’m supposed to be doing with my kids. Listening to my students talk about their project, explain it, and what it means, is how I assess how they’re doing. And they’ve shown improvement, a lot of growth."
What Did You Learn about Your Students Watching them in Action at the Symposium?
"After I came in after they had sequestered teachers while students presented their projects, everyone was coming up to me saying 'your students did so well, we’re really proud of them.' They did way better than I could have expected. They were terrified to present, but so invested in their data and their projects. They all came away talking about how they have more confidence in science, being able to do things like a big project they haven’t been encouraged to do before."
How Do You See Your GLOBE Program Evolving in the Future?
"I think every year I do GLOBE, I try to do better than the previous year, reach out to more students to get them involved. I will be driven by student interest. It means more when it comes from them."
C. Ralph Adler
News origin: United States of America