The Mobile Earth + Space Observatory (MESO) is coming to Carbondale Middle School in March to present an environmental education program on The Importance of Water, thanks to a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. MESO, a science center on wheels, will be parked at Carbondale Middle School for the week of March 11-15, providing an assembly program for all of the school’s 300+ students, and inquiry-based classroom activities for the eighth grade classes. Students will interact with scientist educators from the National Space Science & Technology Institute (NSSTI) as they explore topics and engage in learning that augments the school’s curriculum on the water cycle, watersheds, water purification, and water conservation.
After school, MESO staff will be available for students to further explore Earth & space science using telescopes and other scientific instrumentation. In the evening on March 14, MESO will be open to the public, allowing students’ families and friends to visit and participate in celestial observing. The week will culminate in a “Puddle Palooza” Science Festival on March 14th at 6:30pm for community members to experience highlights of the program presented to students during the week and visit with community partners who deal with water issues and concerns.
This visit has been a year in the making, as school staff and NSSTI planned hands-on scientific inquiry to allow students to experience first-hand what it is to be a scientist. Wild Rose Education's Youth Water Leadership Program and Carbondale Middle School Science faculty and administrators have coordinated with the NSSTI staff to integrate MESO in the school’s schedule this week, and invite community participation in the Thursday night event highlighting the week-long focus on water.
“The program is designed to reach students who might not otherwise have access to the scientists and scientific instrumentation provided by the MESO,” said Robert Sallee, Chairman of the NSSTI Board of Directors. “We want to engage and excite students, and motivate them to pursue additional education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects leading to careers in the technology workforce.” “This project will engage middle school students in learning and research in vital environmental issues relating to our Colorado water supplies with an emphasis on community-based concerns,” Sallee said. “The educational programs have been created to be consistent with Colorado science education standards and build upon curricula and activities currently in place.”
Carbondale Middle School is one of five middle schools across Colorado selected to participate in this program, which is being piloted to verify the efficacy of the mobile STEM lab as a vehicle for motivating students to learn and do research in the Earth and space sciences. Recognizing that many schools do not have the financial resources to acquire sophisticated scientific equipment, NSSTI is awarding each school a $4,550 sub-grant to fund purchase of the scientific instrumentation needed to support on-going student research and costs of participating in this project.
In addition to the MESO water week, the science teachers at Carbondale Middle School have participated in GLOBE training so that their students can collect real science data which is entered in an international database and used for numerous research projects. “The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program is an international science and education program that provides students and the public worldwide with the opportunity to participate in data collection and the scientific process, and contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the Earth system and global environment.” (from www.globe.gov)
Also, NSSTI is providing Carbondale teachers with the opportunity to involve their classes in a distance learning program that connects them via computer to scientists who can discuss the relevance of what they are studying to the lives and wellbeing of people in their community and in other communities.
Dimitri Klebe, PhD, NSSTI President and Principal Investigator for this project, said the goals of the project are to increase student and community understanding and appreciation of the importance of hydrological systems in their communities; how these systems are affected by human influences and climate change; and how these hydrological systems fit into the global picture. This will promote environmental stewardship and increase everyone’s capacity for informed decision-making about water issues on both local and global scales.
“We are bringing together scientist-educators and community organizations to resource teachers and students to do actual research around local community water concerns,” Klebe said. “As a result, students will see the applicability of science to their communities and how community concerns relate to larger regional, national, and international concerns,” Klebe said.
News Blog Archives