Creative Education
2013. Vol.4, No.4A, 29-35
Published Online April 2013 in SciRes ( DOI:10.4236/ce.2013.44A005
Using the GLOBE Program to Educate Students on the
Interdependence of Our Planet and People
Sherry S. Herron1, Jennifer L. Robertson2
1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, USA
2Department of English, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, USA
Received January 31st, 2013; r evised February 28th, 2013; accepted March 14th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Sherry S. Herron, Jennifer L. Robertson. This is an open access article distributed under the
Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any
medium, provided the original wor k is properly cited.
We present how we have used GLOBE protocols and programs in a college undergraduate English course
for science and non-science majors, “Writing in the Sciences”, and in a graduate-level field course for
in-service teachers. Collecting land cover data and determining biomass in conjunction with a series of
writing assignments allowed the English students to connect their work to research done in ecosystems
throughout the world, and to specific environmental concerns such as carbon sequestration, biodiversity,
and the impact of controlled burning on ecosystems. Teachers demonstrated increased knowledge of
ecology, natural histories of various organisms, and awareness of environmental resources. A study con-
ducted the following summer revealed that teachers valued the course and felt that their experiences
helped them be more effective teachers. Six of the eight teachers had conducted field activities with their
students, but also reported significant challenges associated with the effort.
Keywords: GLOBE Program; Teacher Education; Biomass; Non-Science Majors; Environmental
The GLOBE Program (Global Learning and Observations to
Benefit the Environment) promotes the acquisition of the proc-
ess concepts and skills stressed in the National Science Educa-
tion Standards: identifying a problem, designing an experiment,
identifying variables, posing questions, making accurate obser-
vations and measurements, using equipment properly, detecting
measurement errors, using math to solve problems, explaining
data and its measurement relationships, presenting data, com-
municating results, and presenting findings in multiple formats
(NRC, 1996). Students can measure, conduct data analysis, and
submit actual field data (i.e. pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity,
invertebrate counts, land cover, etc.) collected during their in-
vestigations to the GLOBE Student Data Server. This data is
available to students and scientists for analysis.
GLOBE is an interagency program funded by NSF, NASA,
NOAA, and supported by the US Department of State. In addi-
tion, over 100 countries manage and support this program in
elementary and/or secondary education. The GLOBE Program
has enabled us to incorporate authentic scientific investigations
and field experiences into a variety of undergraduate students
and graduate courses for science teachers (
In addition, the program allows us to promote environmental
stewardship and is a vehicle for service-learning.
The GLOBE Program includes multiple protocols divided
into four areas: atmosphere, Earth as a system, hydrology, land
cover/biology, and soil. As the first author is a biology educator
and a GLOBE partner, we focus on land cover/biology and
hydrology protocols and its new program, “Investigating the
Carbon Cycle in Terrestrial Ecosystems”
(http://GLOBE The Modified UNESCO
Classification or “MUC” is used for reporting the type of land
cover in a study site (typically a 30 square meter area). MUC
codes range from natural to developed; wetland to grassland;
rivers to oceans; and everything in between. Recently, a cell
phone app has been developed for ease in determining the
MUC code of a study site. Land cover/biology data is collected
from a study site and includes photographs taken in the center
of the site from the four cardinal directions, the tree height and
circumference of sample trees, and the type and percentages of
ground and canopy cover. The Carbon Cycle program adds tree
identification and requires obtaining the height and circumfer-
ence of every tree over 5 meters tall in the study site. A camera,
compasses, tape measures, string, and flags are needed to mark
off the site. Tree height is calculated using a tape measure and a
simple hand-made clinometer based on a printed copy of a pro-
tractor template. (Tangents for angles are provided on the re-
verse side of the template.) Tree circumference is measured
with a tape measure at a standard height from the ground. Can-
opy and ground cover is measured on the diagonal transects of
the study site. Data is collected every two paces using a hand-
made densiometer and visual observations. Figure 1 is a pho-
tograph of the equipment used to collect land cover/carbon
cycle data. Table 1 provides a simplified procedure for collect-
ing land cover data.
With the program “Investigating the Carbon Cycle in Terres-
trial Ecosystems”, students can determine the biomass of the
study site, compare it to other sites, and/or make comparisons
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 29
Figure 1.
The home-made and inexpensive equipment used for data col-
lection: string, clinometer, measuring tape, densiometer, and
Table 1.
Simplified procedures for collecting land cover data and carbon cycle
Step Procedure
1 Measure off and mark a study site (i.e. 30 m × 30 m) using a
compass and measuring tape.
2 Mark 2 diagonal transects (from each corner t o th e other).
3 Take measurements every 2 paces along these transects using a
densiometer to dete rmine canopy cover and si mple observation to
determine ground cover .
4 For each tree at least 5 m in height in the study site, record its
common name, determine the circumference at breast height using a
measuring tape, and height using a clinomet er and measuri ng tape.
across time. For this purpose, biomass is a measure of the
amount of carbon stored in the trees, and is determined by
measuring tree circumference and using species-specific coeffi-
cients as reported by Jenkins et al. (2003). The program pro-
vides a spreadsheet that automatically calculates biomass. Stu-
dents must enter the dimensions of the study site and the tree
type and circumference of each tree in the site. The carbon
cycle is an essential piece of ecological processes such as plant
growth and accumulation, and the death and decay of plant
material. At the global scale, the carbon cycle influences
Earth’s climate by regulating the amount of carbon dioxide, a
major greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere. Because land-based
ecosystems store as much carbon as the atmosphere, plants and
soils play an important role in regulating climate.
We have used GLOBE protocols and programs in a college
undergraduate English class for non-science majors “Writing in
the Sciences”; a biology methods class for pre-service teachers,
a graduate-level field course in Florida for in-service teachers;
and grant-funded outreach for K-12 students and professional
development for their teachers. In this article, we present two of
the ways we have incorporated the program and the results we
have obtained.
Undergraduate Course in Advanced
Composition: Writing in the Sciences
For the writing students, the GLOBE program helped pro-
vide the perfect opportunity to investigate the intersection be-
tween writing and science, as well as the intersection between
science and socio-political issues. Students were required to
compose a research portfolio which included a proposal, anno-
tated bibliography, primary research article, and poster paper
presentation. The research portfolio enabled students to present
data collected using the GLOBE biometry protocols which
measured biomass, tree circumference, tree height, ground
cover, and canopy cover.
The first part of their portfolio was a proposal based on the
research and grant proposals that researchers are often asked to
write in the course of their projects. These proposals are often
read, analyzed and approved by a diverse range of audiences
including non-technical audiences in granting agencies, scien-
tists in other fields, and scientists within their own field. The
students needed to be able to accommodate those various audi-
ences by framing their research to the needs and interests of
that audience. One of the learning outcomes for the class re-
quired that students develop rhetorical awareness: to be
able to meet the needs and expectations of various audiences.
The research portfolio fulfilled this outcome because it allowed
them the opportunity to research and write for a variety of au-
The second step in the project was an annotated bibliography
which asked students to demonstrate their ability to research
within their field. Students were required to locate primary,
peer-reviewed research articles that related to their experiment
in order to understand the niche that their own data collection
filled. The audience for this annotated bibliography is scientists
interested in their research, but not necessarily in their field.
Students were then asked to produce a primary research arti-
cle that incorporated their research from the annotated bibliog-
raphy and presented the data collected from the GLOBE proto-
cols. Students were asked to write for an audience of scientists
within their field, and to adopt the conventions of scientific
communication. For the final stage of their project, students
presented their findings during a poster paper session at the end
of the semester.
In their proposals, students recognized how people in the city
and surrounding areas might be impacted by research on bio-
mass. Many students focused on the benefits that could be ex-
perienced by the immediate community, while others focused
on the impact on local industry. For example, one student pro-
posed to study biomass in order to create economic incentives
for farmers:
Tree farms in Mississippi aid in increased carbon seques-
tration. The introduction of an economic incentive package for
Mississippi farmers could intensify the produce of carbon se-
questration by prolonging tree life until carbon sequestration
has met maximum capacity.
Another student proposed studying biomass as part of a lar-
ger project concerning local environment, which would aid
governmental decisions concerning zoning and land use. The
students stated that “understanding each regions contribution
to plant biomass and their carbon retention ability can thus
provide further value of flora to locals and help guide land use
management. Similarly, another student connected the need
for better governmental policies to an improved understanding
of the local environment:
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
An intense survey of Forrest and Lamar counties for the
purpose of collecting animal population, species and commu-
nity biomass data would be invaluable to understanding the
condition of our locale and provide guidance to governing
parties in forming environmental regulations specially de-
signed to address the needs of the Pine Belt.
As we can see in the previous examples, the proposal as-
signment enabled the students to focus on local community
needs and concerns that necessitated scientific research. The
next step was to conduct the field research.
Our university is fortunate to have a stand of long-leaf pines,
Pinus palustris, in close proximity to the campus. These once
dominant trees have largely been replaced by loblolly and slash
pines across the southeastern portion of the United States. Stu-
dents collected data in a controlled burn area in the Long Leaf
Preserve during one semester and a mixed hardwoods bottom-
land forest during another. After marking off a 15 square meter
(m2) study site, students determined ground cover and canopy
cover, but tree circumference is the only measurement used to
calculate biomass. Table 2 shows the tree circumference of the
eleven long-leaf pines ranging from approximately 71 centime-
ters at breast height (CBH) to 172 CBH measured by the first
group. Table 3 shows the results of biomass calculations. Val-
ues of the total aboveground biomass, each above ground
component (i.e. foliage, stem, branches), and roots are pre-
sented. The total biomass was determined to be 8714 grams per
square meter (g/m2). Of that, 4357 g/m2 can be attributed to
carbon. Not surprisingly, students can see from the data that
stems (i.e. tree trunks) account for most of the biomass (6798
g/m2), but surprisingly, roots account for the second most (1855
g/m2); followed by branches (1415 g/m2), and lastly, foliage (i.e.
the pine needles) (501 g/m2). A GLOBE protocol that we did
not conduct would have reminded students of the contribution
that dead pine needles on the ground would make on biomass.
The second group of students selected a different site; one
that had previously been identified as a mixed hardwood low-
land forest. Table 4 summarizes the process of determining that
Table 2.
Tree circumference data collected in the long-leaf pine controlled burn
study site.
Species name Tree circumference
(CBH in cm) Species name Tree circumference
(CBH in cm)
Pinus palustri s 132.91 Pinus palustr is 127.80
Pinus palustr is 138.92 Pinus palustris 86.98
Pinus palustr is 148.84 Pinus palustris 70.97
Pinus palustr is 159.83 Pinus palustris 113.04
Pinus palustr is 76.93 Pinus palustris 171.76
Pinus palustr is 159.83
Table 3.
Calculations of biomass based on data collected in the long-leaf pine
controlled burn study si te .
Total above ground Foliage Stem BranchRoots
Plot biomass
(kg/plot) 7843 451 6118 12741670
Biomass g /m2 8714 501 6798 14151855
Carbon g/ m2 4357 250 3399 708 928
Table 4.
Summary of the questions used to determine the MUC code of the
second study site.
Question AnswerMUC Code Conclusion
Is the site natural? Yes
Natural (w oodland,
herbaceous, wetland
or barren land).
Is more than 40% of the
site covered by the
canopy of trees that are
at least 5 meters tall?
Yes Trees (closed forest
or woodland).
Are the crowns of the
tees greater than 5 meters
tall interlocking? Yes MUC 0 Closed.
Are at least 50% of the
trees that reach the
canopy evergreen? No MUC 02
Deciduous (8 7%
deciduous, 1 0%
Do the deciduous trees
lose their leaves because
there is a dry season? Yes MUC 021
Tropical a n d
Is your site located in a
lowland or subm ont a ne
area? Yes MUC 0211
Closed, Mainly
Deciduous, Tropical
and Subtropical,
Broad Leaved
the MUC code of this site is 0211, meaning that the site was a
closed, broad leaf/mixed hardwood lowland forest.
Table 5 lists the common names of the trees identified in the
15 m2 study site and the circumference of each one. Students
identified 4 sweet gums with CBH ranging from 12 cm to 112
cm; 7 hackberries with CB H ranging from 16 cm to 57; 1 sa ssa-
fras at 31 cm; 7 magnolias with CBH ranging from 14.5 cm to
124.5 cm; and 5 oaks with CBH ranging from 8 cm to 125 cm.
Table 6 summarizes the calculations of biomass based on
this data. Total biomass was determined to be 16,963 g/m2 with
8481 g/m2 attributed to carbon. Again, stems account for most
of the biomass (12,882 g/m2), roots second most (3469 g/m2);
followed by branches (3310 g/m2), and lastly, foliage (770
As students moved into later portions of the research portfo-
lio, they were able to make specific connections between this
data and studies performed by scientists in ecosystems around
the world, and global environmental concerns. Instead of gen-
eral claims of the effects of local biomass on the concern of
global warming, students connected their own experiment to
controlled burns in other ecosystems. For example, students
connected the prescribed burning of the long leaf pine in Mis-
sissippi to the prescribed burning of long leaf pines in Montana
(Peters, 2008). One student submitted “An Annotated Bibliog-
raphy of Scientific Literature on Carbon Sequestration in For-
ests and Possible Implications of Forests in Reducing CO2
which studied the potential of Mississippi pine forests as carbon
sinks, and noted that the potential of these forests in reducing
atmospheric carbon is overlooked in part due to Mississippi’s
struggling economy. The student noted that “by raising aware-
ness and value of these carbon reduction potentials, it is possi-
ble to further reduce CO2 concentrations as well as provide the
south with greater carbon based credits and environmental op-
portunities.” While the student found several studies focusing
on forestry in Mississippi, she was also able to connect her
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 31
Table 5.
Common name and tree circumference data (CBH in cm) collected in
the mixed hardwood lowland forest study site.
Common name/tree circumference
(CBH in cm) Common name/tree circ umference
(CBH in cm)
Sweet gum 89.9 Magnolia 22.0
Sweet gum 12.0 Magnolia 40.3
Sweet gum 112.1 Magnolia 27.0
Sweet gum 33.0 Magnolia 124.5
Sassafras 31.0 Magnolia 29.0
Hackberry 24.5 Magnolia 23.0
Hackberry 43.4 Magnolia 14.5
Hackberry 53.5 Oak 41.5
Hackberry 56.0 Oak 8.0
Hackberry 57.0 Oak 69.0
Hackberry 17.0 Oak 120.0
Hackberry 16.0 Oak 125.2
Table 6.
Calculations of biomass based on data collected in the mixed hardwood
lowland forest study site.
Total above ground Foli-age Stem Bra nchRoots
Plot biomass
(kg/plot) 3817 173 2899 745 781
Biomass g /m2 16,963 770 12,882 3310 3469
Carbon g/m2 8481 385 6441 1655 1735
research to related studies performed in Europe and Australia
(Keith, 2009).
Other students were able to link their research on biomass
and prescribed burning to its effects on other plants and animal
life in the area. One student focused her efforts on the effect of
prescribed burning on biodiversity, connecting prescribed
burning efforts to restore sage-grouse habitats in Wyoming
(Beck, 2009), efforts to restore vegetation and study bird re-
sponse to burning efforts in the Ozark Glades (Comer, 2011),
and the impact of prescribed burning on vegetation and birds in
tallgrass prairies (Van Dyke, 2004).
Instead of focusing on local economic development, in the
final portions of the research portfolio students were able to
position themselves within a global community working toward
understanding environmental problems. Using the GLOBE
protocols in conjunction with a series of writing assignments
allowed students to connect their work to research done in eco-
systems throughout the world, and to specific environmental
concerns such as carbon sequestration, biodiversity, and the
impact of controlled burning on ecosystems.
Graduate Field Course for In-service Science
A two-week long summer field biology course for secondary
and post-secondary science and mathematics teachers was
conducted at sites throughout Florida. Sixteen teachers and the
first author spent several days at three sites: Manatee Springs,
Everglades National Park, and Long Key State Park. In addition
to time devoted to their individual investigations, the class col-
lected land cover, soil, and hydrology data at each site. Table 7
provides the list of equipment and materials used.
The class divided into three teams to collect the data, but
team members rotated so that each person had the opportunity
to conduct each type of protocol.
Located in northwest Florida, Manatee Springs flows into the
Suwannee River which, in turn, flows into the Gulf of Mexico.
The spring produces 81,000 gallons of freshwater every minute.
The Manatee Springs area is surrounded by dry, sandy soil
covered by a wooded canopy. Spanish moss hangs from red
maple and sweet gum trees—wetland hardwoods that grow
along river and stream beds. Air plants and resurrection ferns
are found on the bald cypress trees. Upland hardwoods include
oaks and southern magnolia, a broad-leafed evergreen tree.
Two 15 m2 study sites within the campground were surveyed.
By definition, a campground is a disturbed area, and indeed, a
heavy herbaceous layer showed evidence of high human impact.
Therefore, the group rated the ecosystem as fair. The flood
plain area, however, revealed very little human disturbance.
The low herbaceous layer indicated an old growth forest and a
healthy habitat. Table 8 provides the data collected at this site.
The second camp site was in the Everglades National Park.
Established in 1947, the park is composed of almost three mil-
lion acres and spans the southern tip of the Florida peninsula.
Elevation varies from a few feet below sea level to 8 feet above.
The park has been designated a World Heritage Site, an Inter-
national Biosphere Reserve, and a Wetland of International
Importance. The only North American park considered a sub-
tropical preserve, it is inhabited by both temperate and tropical
plant communities including pine savannahs, hardwood ham-
mocks, coastal prairie, and mangrove swamps. Hammocks,
dome-shaped tree “islands” that grow on natural rises of only a
few inches, are surrounded by marsh. These hammocks contain
mangrove, cypress, pine, live oak, red maple, hackberry, ma-
hogany, cocoplum, and gumbo limbo trees (one of the most
wind-tolerant trees in South Florida and recommended as a
hurricane-resistant species). The trunks of some trees were
almost completely covered by the strangler fig and another
epiphyte observed was the butterfly orchid. Table 9 provides
the data collected at this site.
At Long Key State Park, we surveyed a mangrove swamp.
Numerous mud fiddler crabs were observed. These crabs dig
Table 7.
Materials used by the land, soil, and water quality teams.
Team Materials
Land cover
50 meter tape
Slap ruler
GPS unit
Field guides
Graduated cylinder
Sodium hexmetaphosphate
Munsell soil color chart
LaMotte soil pH kit
LaMotte surface lead test kit
Soil organisms study kit
Hydrology LaMotte water quality tes t kits:
pH, DO, salinity
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Table 8.
Data collected by teachers at Manatee Springs State Park.
Data recorded Observed organisms
July 16, 2006
29˚, 29' and 19 "N
82˚, 58' and 31 "W
23' above sea level
# of satellites: 7
Water temperature: 71˚F
Salinity: 1 ppt
pH: 7.4
DO: 2.0
Heavy metals:
0 ppb in springs,
50 ppb in sinkhole
200 ppb in river
Soil sample taken 10 m from waters edge;
10 cm horizon
Soil pH: 7
Soil color: black, grayish brown, gray
Microbes present
Soil Com p os it ion:
10% sand, 21% silt, 69% clay
Bald cypress
Maple tree
Apple snail
Red skimmer dragonfly
Fishing spider
Black vulture
Barred owl
Red shoulde r ed hawk
Snail kite
White tailed deer
Gray squirrel
Table 9.
Data collected by teachers at the Everglades National Park.
Data recorded Observed organisms
July 17, 2006
3.9' above s ea level a t campsite
Natural max elevation 8'
Satellites: 7
Water temperature: 80˚F
Salinity: 0 ppt
pH: 8.1
DO: 2.75
Heavy metals: 150 ppb
Soil sample taken 1 m from camp site; 10
cm horizon
Soil color: olive brown
No microbes present
Soil pH: 7
Shallow soil layer over limestone
Soil composition:
22% sand, 11% silt, 60% clay
Star grass
Foliose lichen
Butterfly orch id
Swallow tailed kit e
Snowy Egret
American alligator
Lubber gra sshopper
Fishing spider
Land hermit crab
Florida tree snail
Florida softshell turtle
burrows in mangrove stands and mudflats that can be up to
three feet deep, and usually end in a “room” which they occupy
during high tide. Fiddler crabs serve as a food source for blue
crab, birds, and raccoons, but also play important roles in marsh
processes. Their burrowing and feeding affect the aeration, and
hence the growth of marsh grasses. They stimulate the turnover
and mineralization of important nutrients. They are also a good
environmental indicator and sensitive to contaminants, espe-
cially insecticides. Their population densities are an example of
the high productivity of wetlands and the health of this ecosys-
tem in particular. In addition, the absence of an herbaceous
layer indicated a healthy ecosystem at this site. Table 10 pro-
vides the data collected at this site.
A follow-up study was conducted to seek evidence for class-
room transfer. Was teacher efficacy in conducting field studies
increased suffic iently for their students to e xperience field studies
during the school year? Data was collected via a nine-item
Table 10.
Data collected by teachers at Long Key State Park.
Data recorded Observed organisms
July 20, 2006
24˚, 48' and 43 "N
80˚, 49' and 21 "W
3' above sea level
Water temperature: 80˚F
Salinity: 36 ppt
pH: 8.2
DO: 5.6
Heavy metals: 300 ppb
Soil sample taken 20 meters from
waters’ e dg e; 10 cm horizon
Soil color: l ight gray, pinkish white
with crushed coral
No microbes present
Soil pH: 8
Soil Com p os it ion:
28% sand, 6% silt, 66% clay
Spider lily
Red mangrove
Black mangrove
White mangrove
Blue heron
Great egret
Brown pelican
Sea urchin
Sand fiddler crab
anonymous survey sent after the subsequent school year. Eight
teachers responded (a 50% response rate). The first three questions
collected discreet data:
About how many field-based lessons or activities did you
use in your classroom that you experienced during the field
About how many times did you take students outside during
the school day in order for them to conduct authentic re-
About how many times did you organize a field trip beyond
the school day for them to make observations in nature or
collect data?
All but two teachers reported using field-based lessons or ac-
tivities experienced during the field course in their classes the
following year. One reported using 7 - 8 lessons or activities,
but the mode (3 teachers) was 3 - 4. Six teachers reported tak-
ing their students outside during the school day in order for
them to conduct authentic research. One reported taking stu-
dents outside 5 - 6 times, but the mode (4 teachers) was 3 - 4.
Only one teacher organized a field trip that extended beyond
the school day in order for his or her students to make observa-
tions in nature or collect data. Figure 2 shows the data in
graphical form. A list of the lessons reported as being used by
teachers the following year is provided in Table 11.
The survey included four open-response items. These in-
1) What were the impediments you faced in implementing
any of these activities?
2) How did your understanding about science or appreciation
of science change as a result of participating in the field course?
3) What experience(s) in the field course did you find most
(4. least) valuable? Why?
In response to question number 1, almost all teachers re-
ported the typical and expected impediments: time constraints;
class periods too short for outside activities; uncooperative
colleagues; and unwilling superintendents either due to testing
or liability issues. Sadly, one teacher tried very hard, but even-
tually was prevented from taking students on a field trip:
We had a field trip planned to an alligator farm to coincide
with an interdisciplinary unit on the Everglades. Our Reading
teacher and I collaborated to have the students read The
Missing Gator of Gumbo Limbo as we studied the Everglades
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 33
Field Activities wit h S tudents
0. 5
1. 5
2. 5
3. 5
4. 5
none 1 to 23 to 45 to 67 to 8
number of teache
out s i de
number of teachers
approxim ate numb e r o f activities
Figure 2.
Field lessons conducted with students the follow-
ing year as reported by teachers.
Table 11.
Field lessons or activities used during the following school year as reported
by teachers.
Biosphere in a bottle Insect ecology
Using dichotom ou s key s Campus ecology
Water-testing techniques Chromatog r aphy wit h l o cal plants
Collecting microorganisms Leaf collection and identification
Developing observation skills Identifying organisms
in my 7th grade science classes. The trip was cancelled by the
School Board due to safety concerns.
Only one teacher stated that keeping students on task was a
major impediment to conducting field activities. In response to
question number 2, one teacher stated that the field course sim-
ply affirmed his or her understanding or appreciation of science.
Most responses, however, fell into two categories. One teacher
gave responses that included both categories. Representing one
category, five teachers thought that being able to transmit
first-hand knowledge of the ecosystems in Florida to their stu-
dents helped them be more effective teachers. A response of
this nature included:
The individual research topics led to a greater understand-
ing of data collection and record keeping that I now share with
my students. As a result, my students are more able to develop
their own research area and communicate their findings with
greater ease.
Representative of the second category, four teachers spoke of
a better understanding of ecology as a science because of the
field course. Two such responses follow:
(I have) more understanding about the interrelationships of
animals in a habitat, especially in the Everglades. I now see the
alligator as not only a predator but as behaviorally the reason
the Everglades work as they do as a habitat and migration
sanctuary for such a diversity of animals.
The main change that I had was concerning the amazing
work being done in Florida on conservation efforts for all of
the sites that we visited. Often we only hear of the problems
without much mention of the scientific creativity involved in
solving them.
Each teacher gave detailed responses to question number 3.
One noted that snorkeling in the Dry Tortugas was the most
valuable experience in the field course. Two teachers reported
that the opportunity to work both independently and coopera-
tively was the most valuable experience. Another referred to
this indirectly when providing this response:
The most valuable to me was watching our instructor keep us
focused, while allowing us to organize and carry out our field
study work. I have often failed at getting the point across to
high school students when collecting and analyzing data from
field work.
The remaining four stated that the opportunity to actually
experience nature and conduct field studies was the most valu-
able experience. One such response follows:
I feel the hands-on experiments we conducted as well as the
up close and personal experiences with the wildlife and plant
life enabled me to bring those experiences—along with a re-
newed enthusiasm to my classroom [] these experiences will
help me to be more comfortable conducting similar activities
with my students.
In response to the final question, seven of the eight respon-
dents stated that there were no invaluable experiences. How-
ever, one teacher talked about the group report as the least
valuable experie n ce:
I dont recall any wasted moments except a tiny bit of frus-
tration when making a group report on our findings. But hey,
this was still very valuable in learning to cope!
Both students and teachers demonstrated enthusiasm and en-
hanced understandings of the nature of science during their
field trips. For the Writing in the Sciences class, students ac-
commodated their research for a variety of audiences, showing
how local environmental concerns impact the immediate com-
munity, but also connecting their research to environmental
problems around the globe. In all classes, GLOBE participants
demonstrated increased knowledge of ecology, natural histories
of various organisms, and awareness of environmental re-
sources. For the teacher in-service class, a study conducted the
following summer revealed that teachers valued the course and
felt that their experiences helped them be more effective teach-
ers. Six of the eight teachers conducted field activities with
their students the following year, but also reported significant
challenges associated with the effort. In the current environ-
ment of high-stakes testing, the time and effort required to
conduct field studies is often used to justify the absence of au-
thentic field-based learning. At the same time, critical environ-
mental issues are finally being recognized across the nation.
The GLOBE program is a resource that enables students to
investigate their local environmental, while situating their ex-
perience within a global network of research.
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of forest biomass carbon stocks and lessons from the world’s most
carbon-dense forests. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sci-
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Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 35
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