92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Monday, 23 January 2012
Taking Authentic Student Research to New Heights Through the International Students and Teacher Exchange Program (ISTEP)
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
Michael J. Passow, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and Dwight Morrow High School, Palisades, NY; and S. L. Chan-Lee, B. M. Buckley, and G. R. Kowach

Poster PDF (65.0 MB) Poster PDF (65.0 MB) Poster PDF (65.0 MB) Poster PDF (65.0 MB)

The International Student and Teacher Exchange Program (ISTEP) elevates to new heights authentic science research programs (ASRP) that bring together high school students and research scientists. During the past two years, 10th 12th grade students from New York City and Singapore, joined this year by a group from the Netherlands, have convened at the Lamont-Doherty Earth of Observatory of Columbia University (LDEO) to conduct fieldwork about tree rings, and water and soil chemistry, and to learn how scientists analyze and publish their discoveries. All of the students participate in ASRP through their home schools, but ISTEP expands their knowledge and skills into new subject areas and demonstrates the power of larger-scale investigations. ISTEP is organized by Sau Ling (Charlene) Chan-Lee, founder of the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics High School (MCSMHS) ASRP, with cooperation from Dr. Brendan Buckley of the LDEO Tree Ring Lab, Dr. Michael J. Passow of the Earth2Class Workshops for Teachers at LDEO, and Dr. Glen Kowach of the City College of New York Chemistry Department.

Selected students and teachers from Tamasek Junior College and Nanyang Girls High School of Singapore and Maurick College, Vught, the Netherlands joined students from the MCSMHS in May 2011. Over several school days in advance of the field experience, students meet at the MCSMHS to share their school experiences in the different countries, and receive training in the use of the data collecting equipment. Early Saturday morning, participants travelled from Manhattan to the Lamont campus in Palisades, NY. During morning and afternoon shifts, students rotated among stations in the Tallman Mountain State Park near the Lamont campus to conduct soil chemistry and tree-ring/forest species studies, or paddled canoes through Sparkill Creek at the edge of the park to reach locations where water samples were collected. Ten LDEO scientists, grad students, and supporters of the ASRP came as volunteers to assist the organizers and teachers from Singapore and the Netherlands.

At the end of the day, everyone rode to the Alpine Boat Basin of the Palisades Interstate Park-New Jersey Section for overnight camping on the shores of the Hudson River, which also helped unite the students through an experience that is not what they expect in a trip to New York City. On Sunday, students returned to LDEO to analyze their data using chemical kits and the same equipment used by Tree Ring Lab scientists. During the next week at MCSMHS, students continued their analytical investigations, and provided preliminary results through a poster session held in conjunction with the ASRP Awards Program.

Student responses gathered by a survey were overwhelmingly positive. Many cited the opportunity to use scientific equipment in the field and from the canoes, interacting with students from other parts of the world, and engaging in activities unlike any in previous experiences in their home cities. All students indicated that they plan to continue research projects when they go to college. Future collaborations among the schools may involve travel to Singapore and the Netherlands by MCSMHS students, submission of research results to national and international science fair competitions, and inclusion of students-collected data in research efforts by the scientists.

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