Hawkins students making science lessons global affair

Published on Monday, 2 September 2013 21:20 - Written by EMILY GUEVARA eguevara@tylerpaper.com

On Friday night when most high school students were going home from a football game, three girls in Hawkins had a different plan.

Allyson Edwards, Hope Hughes and Madison Jaco, all Hawkins High School students, intended to Skype school students in India to talk about research.

This has been their means of communicating with the students at Starplex East Point School in New Delhi, India, for the past few months.

Both sets of students are conducting research related to soil science, hydrology and phenology with the purpose of learning more about the climate system in their communities and around the world.

Their periodic Skype sessions allow them to share about their work in the process.

“It’s been a huge opportunity that I’m thankful for,” Hawkins Middle School sixth-grade science teacher Audra Edwards said of this project and the work that has led to this point. “It’s gone way beyond where I would have imagined.”

Although Ms. Edwards teaches at the middle school, the high school students are participating in this project in addition to their regular course work.

The students, Ms. Edwards and another chaperone recently returned from a trip to Maryland where they attended the 2013 GLOBE Annual Partner Meeting. Representatives from 26 countries and 27 states were on-hand.

The students also took some time to visit historical and cultural sites in and around Washington, D.C.

GLOBE stands for Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment and is a worldwide hands-on science and education program for primary and secondary students, according to its website.

The organization’s vision promotes and supports the collaboration among students, educators and scientists on study and research about the environment and the Earth system, according to its website. The organization works in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Science Foundation.

Hawkins students have been involved with the GLOBE program for two years. The University of Texas at Tyler GLOBE Partnership has been an integral part of the process, helping prepare Hawkins students for the India trip and this recent conference.

During the students’ time in Maryland, they shared about the Hawkins-New Delhi collaboration and participated in on-site research.

The Hawkins and New Delhi students are analyzing soil characteristics in both locations with a goal of testing their hypothesis that proximity to pollution negatively affects soil quality.

The hope is that the work will lead to some efforts to improve the cleanliness of the areas around the Indian school, something the students there are concerned about.

The two teams have been working together since they met last fall at the Indian Environmental Society International Science Festival in New Delhi.

During their time there, many of the Indian students expressed their interest in what they could do to better control pollution in their city and country.

The Hawkins students decided to collaborate with the India students to work on the project.

The data at this point revealed no indication of soil pollutants. However, Ms. Edwards said they believe more research is needed.

The students have connected with a soil science professor at Texas A&M University and plan to develop their research.

The girls said they enjoyed meeting and interacting with students from other parts of the world at the GLOBE meeting. They particularly hit it off with some students from Croatia as well as some girls from Nigeria.

Madison said it was neat to see the cultural differences fade away as the students conducted experiments together.

The next steps in their research is to continue collecting data, possibly form a partnership with students in Nigeria, and see whether there is a way to start an Adopt-a-Highway program in India. The students also hope to attend the GLOBE Learning Expedition next year.