An upcoming trip, though, tops it all. Four Hawkins High School students and one Hawkins Middle School teacher will travel to New Delhi, India, to participate in the GLOBE India Science Festival.
This is the first time a U.S. team has participated in the event and the Hawkins group is the only team representing the United States.
“I'm blown away by the whole thing,” sixth-grade science teacher Audra Edwards said. “I'm happy when I get to go to Kilgore to staff development. The whole idea of taking a week and getting to go around the world with kids is awesome.”
The group will leave Oct. 27 and return Nov. 5. The trip will include three days at the science festival along with additional time for sightseeing.
The high school students who are going are freshmen Allyson Edwards and Madison Jaco, junior Lauren Haney and senior Elijah Turner.
Nandini McClurg, research associate at The University of Texas at Tyler GLOBE International Division, also will go.
GLOBE stands for Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment.
The hands-on international science and education program brings together students, teachers, scientists and community members in 100-plus countries to develop environmental awareness,
understanding of other cultures and a sense of global community, according to a UT Tyler news release.
The festival will provide participants with the opportunity to exhibit their GLOBE activities, projects and other program-related achievements, according to the news release.
The organization's international division is at the University Corp. for Atmospheric Research satellite office on the UT Tyler campus.
In summer 2011, Ms. Edwards and two other Hawkins ISD science teachers got involved with GLOBE through a staff development program.
These hands-on projects involved studying budbursting, which is the emergence of new leaves on plants, the atmosphere, climate, soil, and hydrology.
Her sixth-graders did a year's worth of research measuring budbursts, air and soil temperatures, precipitation and more and entering the data into the GLOBE database.
They were testing the hypothesis that budbursting is occurring at earlier times in years with warmer temperatures and more precipitation.
The Hawkins High School students helped to make a video about the work.
Ms. Edwards said she had hoped her students' work would get recognized for a GLOBE event in Minnesota, but that event came and went.
So when she got the call about the India opportunity, she was thrilled.
Although the sixth-graders collected the research data, the high schoolers have helped lead the research and they are the ones who will travel to India.
At the festival, the students will have a booth set up where they will share about the research. They also will make a presentation to scientists about their work.
As many as 4,000 students could attend the event with India, Nepal and Thailand among the countries represented.
Allyson, 14, and Lauren, 17, said they are looking forward to visiting another country.
“I think the most exciting (thing) would probably be the people that we get to meet … and the diversity,” Allyson said.
Lauren said she is excited about growing closer to the people from her own school and meeting new people.
She also said the science festival will give her an opportunity to overcome her fear of public speaking.
Together the students will present a scientific research poster that details their work. It will share information about budbursting, their hypothesis, equipment, conclusion and future work.
Both girls said they are scientifically minded and enjoy the work.
“It's been really interesting getting to be a part of it,” Lauren said. She said it's neat to think that students in a small town of about 1,300 people get to interact with people from around the world because of a research project.
Ms. Edwards said her hope is that the students develop some lasting friendships with the students they meet at the festival.
The students plan to share a bit about their culture with the students they meet there and have prepared a line dance as part of that.
Ms. Edwards said the trip is a great educational opportunity, but also an opportunity for the Hawkins students to be ambassadors for their country.
“We're just going with the best presentation that we possibly can,” Ms. Edwards said. “We just want to represent the United States well.”