Making Science a Verb
Web Sites Connect Students and Teachers around GLOBE
by Allan Ludman
At Franklin K. Lane High School in Brooklyn, Amelia Anderson’s bilingual students used hydrology data they collected and analyzed to identify a problem with chemical fertilizers used in a local park and then worked with park personnel to resolve the issue. Just a few miles away in Corona, Queens, students under the supervision of teacher Greg Grambo transformed a weed- and garbage-infested vacant lot adjacent to their middle school, Louis Armstrong, into an environmental laboratory complete with newly planted native trees and a hydrology site.
The preceding are just two examples of how GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) has made significant changes in the way in which science is taught and the ways in which students respond. The GLOBE program to improve science education by involving students and their teachers in worldwide research examining long-term global change was founded in 1994 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Departments of State and Education. GLOBE is now used in more than 13,000 schools in 103 countries and has demonstrated success in improving student interest and ability in science. GLOBE teachers are trained to provide authentic, inquiry-based research education for their students, with scientific protocols tailored to different developmental levels. Students make scientific measurements in five areas — atmosphere, water, soil, land cover, and seasonal change — and send their data via the Internet to research scientists studying global change. The environment around each school becomes a natural laboratory, opening students’ eyes to the world around them. Perhaps the most important aspect of GLOBE is that students recognize that science “is a verb” — it’s best understood by doing.
Two intensely useful Web sites related to GLOBE are described below:
Surf here (www.globe.gov) to find a treasure trove of resources for all teachers, whether or not they have been GLOBE-certified. Resources in the Web site’s Educators’ Corner include curriculum-building materials; links to popular textbooks; dozens of innovative and enjoyable learning activities that drive home important concepts and hone students’ measuring, analytical, and synthesizing skills; linkages with national and local standards; self-paced quizzes on using instruments, identifying clouds, geography, and much, much more. Every piece of GLOBE student data can be accessed, graphed, and mapped (click on GLOBE Data » Maps and Graphs) so students can look for relationships between types of data (e.g. air temperature, water temperature, dissolved oxygen, etc.) and compare data from different elevations, latitudes, or continents. The entire GLOBE Teacher’s Guide is available online, as well as program evaluations, several useful animations, film clips, and ways to communicate with teachers and students throughout the worldwide GLOBE community.
Queens College GLOBE NY Metro
As the GLOBE partner for southern New York State, Queens College recruits, trains, and provides continuing support for GLOBE teachers throughout New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, and southern Westchester counties. This site (http://qcpages.qc.edu/qcglobe/) introduces the GLOBE program and our approach to implementing it in the New York metropolitan area; explains the training format; provides photographs showing training in each of the five protocol areas; lists dates of forthcoming training workshops; has online versions of our annual newsletter, and identifies each school that has joined the GLOBE community in our area. It also identifies the corporations that support our activities (and who provide a complete GLOBE science instrument kit to every school we train) and the environmental and government organizations that have joined us as affiliates.
Allan Ludman is beginning his 29th year as Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Queens College and his 39th studying the evolution of the Appalachian mountain system. The author of two college-level geology textbooks and a laboratory manual, his contributions to science education have expanded to the K-12 levels.
Ludman is now in his third year as Director of GLOBE NY Metro, the Queens College GLOBE partnership responsible for teacher training and support throughout southern New York State. In its first 18 months, GLOBE NY Metro has trained 185 teachers from more than 70 schools from Staten Island to Smithtown in the use of GLOBE scientific protocols to improve science education and to stimulate and maintain student interest in inquiry-based scientific learning.