An effort is underway to mobilize the global K-12 community in the context of the GLOBE program to participate in periodic, near-surface, gravimetric soil moisture measurements. GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science and education program. GLOBE is a cooperative effort of schools, federal agencies, universities, and non-government organizations in partnership with 95 other countries worldwide. Gravimetric soil moisture measurements are well suited to the GLOBE program because they are relatively simple and inexpensive, yet form the accepted standard in the field. Two challenges must be met: 1) how to motivate enough schools to make a scientifically useful data set and 2) how to motivate land-surface scientists to embrace the data and help encourage the K-12 community in this effort?
Despite a multi-year effort by the GLOBE program, neither challenge has been satisfactorily met yet. Through a revitalized soil moisture protocol, we are seeking to meet these challenges. To ensure that the soil moisture data collected is of scientific use, we are seeking the guidance of the global climate modeling community to identify the optimal timing and spatial distribution of semiannual, coordinated soil moisture measurement campaigns. At the same time, we are placing a strong emphasis on building effective local collaborations and partnerships with both academic and agency practitioners to re-energize teachers and students to participate in our measurement campaigns. Through this concerted effort we hope to give K-12 students and teachers an opportunity to contribute to and to work with scientists in a collaborative effort to better understand the global climatological and hydrological cycles.