A Visit to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

May 20, 2014

Science Educators are called upon to educate students about oftentimes difficult topics and processes. In order to do that, we need to perform our own research, practice using the equipment we teach with, seek training, find ways to make science exciting for students, and be knowledgeable enough to answer the many questions that they will generate. Fortunately, there are organizations and programs like The GLOBE Program to help. 

The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment Program (GLOBE) is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science and education program. Science educators from around the world become involved with GLOBE by attending a Teacher Training Workshop where they receive professional development on the implementation of GLOBE pedagogical models for inquiry-based research and the use of GLOBE protocols. When teachers attend a GLOBE training event or complete the GLOBE E-Teacher certification, they are provided with the knowledge and tools to implement GLOBE protocols and learning activities in a classroom setting. Working with their students to make data observations, classes report their observations to the GLOBE website to be shared with other GLOBE participants worldwide.GLOBE Program Training

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) is the world's largest private, non-profit oceanographic research institution and a renowned leader in the study and exploration of the world’s oceans. The scientists and engineers who call the institute home have played major roles in many of the discoveries that form our understanding of the ocean and how it interacts with other parts and systems of the planet. It’s a place that many science teachers can only dream of visiting.Last month, Woods Hole became the backdrop for the GLOBE Train the Trainer: Soil and Hydrology Studies Workshop. And as a GLOBE Partner, the Science Scene team was graciously invited to attend, along with twenty educators ranging from college professors, scientists, secondary teachers and informal science educators. Experience with the GLOBE Program included all levels, from first time trainees to veteran principal scientists. This mix proved to be a true inquiry based experience at all points as participants traded field and lab experience with each other, creating an engaging dynamic that proved helpful in attaining expertise in field data collection using existing GLOBE protocols while also pulling from the SMAP (Soil Moisture Active/Passive) objectives.The two days of field studies began with group discussion. Each participant shared their professional connection with the GLOBE Program and what this program has meant to their position, whether research- or education-based.

Day one began with participant groups calibrating their instruments and kits for the soil and water field studies—very important since this must be done each time before data is collected. Once calibration was complete, the groups ventured outside to the harbor to begin testing and data collection. A cold snap that gripped much of the nation over the winter, continued its hold on Massachusetts on the day of the soil studies, and participants experienced some frozen precipitation. Groups used LaMotte NPK kits and Oakton pH meters, both GLOBE program approved, to measure soil pH and fertility. As always, the GLOBE Soil Color book was applied to profile and identify soil samples. 

Day two brought the group to the bay to collect water samples and observe other physical site measurements. By testing the alkalinity, salinity, dissolved oxygen and nitrate-nitrogen conditions and characteristics of the cape waters, the group formulated a snapshot of the current aquatic environment. The data collected also gave opportunity to compare with historical data to create an overall picture of the environment. The prep work completed prior to collecting the samples and on-site testing enabled the group to accurately measure the aquatic parameters. The last data collected at the site were GPS coordinates—a vital asset for any environmental sampling.

Concluding the day, the group gathered at the WHOI Museum to discuss the data they had collected, and they were instructed on methods to enter their data to the GLOBE Program website to share with other partners schools and groups.

This is the second Train the Trainer workshop that we have had the opportunity to attend. As with our first time, this Soil and Hydrology workshop was interesting and informative, and we all gained new insights of the data that is present in soil and water, and the educational impact of keeping and sharing the record of this knowledge.After leaving Woods Hole, the Science Scene team returned to Boston to participate as vendors at the NSTA conference at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. We appreciate all of our friends who stopped by our booth and shared their stories with us, and look forward to seeing you again soon.

Stephanie Miller

With over 25 years experience, Stephanie serves as a senior copywriter, social media director, and senior editor for Science Scene. Stephanie is always on the lookout for new educational and STEM-related opportunities and technology.