Climate Change Connections: Connecting with Educators from Around the Globe

The Eco-Schools USA team held its second NASA/Eco-Schools USA Climate Change Connections professional development institute event on July 27-29, 2011 in Washington, DC.  For this training, we brought in educators from Fairbanks and Wasilla, Alaska, tribal schools from the Southwest (New Mexico and Arizona), and Atlanta, Georgia, as well as from our sister Eco-Schools programs in Puerto Rico and Ireland.

We held our first professional development institute event last November, and spent the months prior to today refining existing curriculum lessons and adding additional lessons to complete the 21-lesson, four-module middle school/high school curriculum.  We also moved the training from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center into the heart of Washington, DC, so as to allow the participants to experience and see DC. For many this was their first time in the nation’s capitol.

Brian Campbell of NASA Goddard/Wallops (Photo by Laura Hickey)

On Day 1, our guest speaker was Brian Campbell of NASA Goddard/Wallops, and he brought with him a mini globe that displays climate data sets (ocean water temperature, cloud cover, chlorophyll blooms and more) since we did not have easy access to the six foot globe.

On Day 2, our guest speakers were educators from the Landsat mission, Anita Davis and Jeanne Allen, who provided a wonderful overview of how NASA produces such incredibly detailed views of Earth from over 400 miles in space, and the information that they can provide through time series showing changes in landscapes due to development, deforestation, drought and extreme weather events.

In the afternoon, Dr. Amanda Staudt, NWF’s Climate and Energy Scientist, led a session on Albedo and Surface Ice Reflectance, and Sarah Silverberg from the University of New Hampshire led a session on trees and carbon protocols, and instructed attendees on how to measure trees to use in calculating carbon sequestration potential.  In between, there were sessions on citizen science and phenology through the use of Project Budburst, which got everyone up out of their chairs and outside for a much needed Green Hour.

Photo by Laura Hickey

Because Eco-Schools is an international program (now in 53 countries) and NASA reports data from around the globe, we wanted to extend this training to several of our sister organizations.

Mayrelis Diaz from Puerto Rico and Alison Sheridan from Ireland attended and will be sharing this curriculum with their teachers and secondary schools, thus extending the reach of this critical climate change information.  Together with the teachers we trained last November and again this July, our goal is to reach diverse constituencies with not only important information on climate science and its impacts, but also with real, on-the-ground solutions through the Eco-Schools framework, empowering the next generation of environmental stewards.