Nine Community College Faculty Gather in Virginia to Integrate NASA Tools into their Curriculum

NASA Project Team
Last Thursday & Friday, February 23 & 24, National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and Jobs for the Future (JFF) hosted a professional development institute in Reston, Virginia, at NWF HQs for the community college faculty participants of the Building a Diverse, Green Workforce Project. NWF in partnership with JFF, received funding through NASA’s Innovations in Global Climate Change Education program for this project to work with three community colleges in the U.S., Edgecombe Community College in North Carolina, Wayne County Community College in Michigan, and Wilbur Wright College in Illinois, to integrate climate change science, tapping NASA resources, into their green career education and training programs. This project is an effort of the Greenforce Initiative, a partnership of JFF & NWF, to advance green career pathways in six regions of the U.S. (IL, MI, NI, TX, VA, WA) geared toward lower-skilled adults and connect campus sustainability projects to hands-on training for students. 

Twenty-five participants attended the Institute last week, including 9 faculty from our three community college partners, three NASA staff, other project team members from the University of Toledo, Columbia University and Moraine Valley Community College, and JFF and NWF staff.

Reviewing NASA Resources with Amanda Staudt, NWF Climate Scientist
During the meeting faculty partners learned more about the NASA tools and data available to use for their courses through the My NASA Data website. Faculty also had the opportunity to review existing curricula that could be revised for their community college audience and participated in a two-hour working session to develop an outline for their revised courses that are scheduled to be piloted in the fall. For example, two chemistry professors developed an outline to integrate a lesson on coral reef health into their existing courses. The new lesson will focus on the impacts on coral reef health from water temperature increases due to climate change and also the acidification of ocean water because of the increase amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Also added to this lesson will be a focus on the impacts of biodiversity in the coral reef system due to temperature change and pH changes in ocean waters.

Over the next two years of this project new course curriculum and best practices will be shared on the partner campuses, campuses in the region, as well as colleges and universities in the NWF and JFF networks.

NWF’s EcoSchools program received a similar grant from NASA to develop curriculum for the K-12 audience in 2009. Resources developed through this program are being referenced for the community college project.