8.4 Exposing Underrepresented Groups to Climate Change and Atmospheric Science Through Service Learning and Community-Based Participatory Research

Wednesday, 25 January 2017: 11:15 AM
308 (Washington State Convention Center )
David Padgett, Tennessee State Univ., Nashville, TN

Tennessee State University (TSU) is among seven partner institutions in the NASA-funded project “Mission Earth: Fusing  Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) with NASA Assets to Build Systemic Innovation in STEM Education.”   The primary objective at the TSU site is to expose high school students from racial and ethnic groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM to atmospheric science and physical systems associated with climate change.  Since 2006, undergraduate students enrolled in TSU’s Urban Geography (GEOG 4850), Weather and Climate (GEOG 3500), Geospatial Issues in Environmental Security (GEOG 4650), and Cartography (GEOG 3100) courses develop lessons for high school students focused upon applications of geospatial technology in the analysis of global warming phenomena and related extreme weather events. 

The GLOBE Atmosphere Protocols are emphasized in exercises focused upon the urban heat island (UHI) phenomenon and air quality measurements.  Pre-service teachers at TSU, and in-service teachers at four local high schools are being certified in the Atmosphere Protocols.  Precipitation, ambient air temperature, surface temperature and other data are collected at the schools through a collaborative learning effort among the high school learners, TSU undergraduates, and high school teachers. Data collected and recorded manually in the field are compared to each school’s automated Weatherbug station measurements. Students and teachers engage in analysis of NASA imagery as part of the GLOBE Surface Temperature Protocol.

At off-campus locations, US Clean Air Act (CAA) criteria air pollutant and Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) air pollutant sampling is being conducted in community-based participatory research (CBPR) format by students partnering with local non-profit environmental organizations.  Data collected by the citizen scientist groups using low-cost air sampling devices is being compared with readings from government air monitors.  The GLOBE Aerosols Protocol is used in comparative assessments with air sampling results.

Project deliverables include four new GLOBE schools, the enrollment of which is nearly entirely comprised of students underrepresented in STEM.  A model for service learning activities with GLOBE to increase underrepresented groups participation in STEM is a second deliverable.  A third deliverable, a comprehensive citizen science guidebook for grassroots level air quality assessment is being developed for wide distribution.

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