EAPS K-12 Outreach Coordinator Appointed Chair of U.S. GLOBE Partner Forum
Writer(s): Logan Judy
Following a career of heavy involvement in the GLOBE programs, EAPS K-12 Outreach Coordinator Steven Smith has been elected the chair of the U.S. GLOBE Partner Forum.
The GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) Program is an international environmental science and education program that equips students and the public to become active participants in citizen science. GLOBE is sponsored by NASA, with support from NSF, NOAA, and the Department of State. The U.S. Partner Forum, of which Smith is a founding member, includes representatives from NASA, a country coordinator, and the GLOBE implementation office, among other representatives. The Forum works closely to guide the future of GLOBE in the United States, which includes organizing national symposia and managing marketing efforts.
Smith has long been involved in the GLOBE program. This initially goes back to before his time as a staff member at Purdue, when he was an elementary school teacher. Then, he says, the GLOBE resources were very helpful in the classroom.
“I was not certified then because at the time, you had to go to workshops and there weren’t any close. I found the materials online, though, and they were very helpful. Once I got into the outreach position, it was a program I wanted to bring to Indiana.”
A key part of the GLOBE program is the network of partners. GLOBE partners are institutions – usually universities, but not always – who have committed to helping the program in some way, often through teacher workshops. Most states have more than one GLOBE partner, but when Smith began his work as Outreach Coordinator, Indiana did not have any. This was something he immediately sought to change, and quickly found that Purdue made an ideal GLOBE partner.
“Purdue had scientists collaborate with GLOBE in the past, but we were not a GLOBE partner,” he said. “For example, the GIS (geographic information system) software that they have used for years was built right here at Purdue.”
Purdue, still the only GLOBE partner in Indiana, is now very involved. Purdue faculty present at GLOBE meetings, teacher workshops are regularly held on campus, and last year one of only six national GLOBE student symposia was held at Purdue, as well as the North American meeting. Educators from all over the United States come to Purdue for these workshops, despite the fact that the modules for GLOBE certification can now be completed online. Three such workshops will take place this summer alone. One of these is a middle school teacher workshop supported by an anonymous donor, and the other two are elementary school trainings in STEM, in partnership with The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. These two workshops were initially planned as one, but demand was such that another was added.
“A lot of people in education talk about STEM, but to do STEM well is difficult,” Smith said. “So teachers need training to understand how to do that, and they want help with that.”
The Purdue involvement in these trainings has extended beyond EAPS, as well. Representatives from Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, and Forestry will also be involved in the trainings to talk about applications to STEM education from their respective backgrounds.
These workshops result in an impact that goes beyond an elementary or middle school classroom. The GLOBE materials also teach students about citizen science, enabling them to do data collection as private individuals with the GLOBE Observer App. This has been used to increase the accuracy of satellite data, take tree measurements in forests, and even identify breeding areas for disease-carrying mosquitos. That kind of impact is one reason why Smith is so involved with the program – knowing the difference that it makes globally as well locally and nationally.
“GLOBE is international, and I’m just part of the U.S. Partner Forum; GLOBE is in more than 120 countries,” he said. “I feel like we’re a small part of the program, but all the parts put together make it healthy.”