Science in the Age of Globalization

Author: Jennifer Jordan-Kaszuba, Secondary Science Specialist

The world is shrinking, not in the literal sense, but in the sense that increasingly academic endeavors and businesses are global in nature.  Researchers around the world collaborate, sharing techniques, data and conclusions.  Businesses rely on products and services from across the globe and offer their goods internationally.  Technology has sped up the rate at which globalization is occurring.  Part of preparing students for post-secondary success is preparing them for changes globalization brings such as cultural sensitivity, global collaboration and an understanding of the world beyond their hometown.

 

There are several ways teachers can help prepare students for globalization.

Utilizing Data from the Internet

One of the easiest ways is to incorporate data from around the world.  Examples of data that might be of interest:

  • Climate and weather
  • Seasonal changes
  • Proportion of energy from renewable resources
  • Rate of vaccination compared with incidences of disease
  • Agricultural productivity

 

Students as Researchers

Students can also become part of collecting data and sharing it internationally.  Several projects exist to help students as researchers, including GLOBE and the World MOON Project.

 

GLOBE  (www.globe.gov)

Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) is a well-established program intended to allow schools to collect and interact with environmental data.  With over 27,000 schools participating, they have a world-wide network of partner schools in 112 countries.  Schools must have a GLOBE-trained teacher in order to register to enter most data. The GLOBE at Night project is very accessible and is a great tool for teaching the nature of science.

 

World MOON Project (http://worldmoonproject.org)

Students from all over the world are asked to observe the moon and identify patterns to gain a deeper understanding about the moon’s appearance.  Short essays based on student observations are collected by the World MOON (More Observation of Nature) Project. Participants then receive a packet of essays from other parts of the world so students are given both a local and global perspective. Students learn to observe nature firsthand and are engaged in global collaboration.  Teachers may choose to emphasize different aspects of the project to meet own needs of their curriculum standards, and participation in the World MOON Project can emphasize curricular goals in one or more of the following areas:

  • Lunar phases
  • Inquiry skills
  • Nature of science

 

Students as Collaborators

The most advanced form of global collaboration involves students actively communicating and working with students from another location to complete a project or accomplish a task.  Projects students work on are varied and limited only by the imagination of the students and teachers who are collaborating.  Students may work together to design a robot to walk on Mars, seek better ways to clean water or collaborate on earthquake resistant designs.  Projects of this nature are sometimes provided as structured activities by organizations or can be the brainchild of the teachers involved.  Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis is one of the most popular books on how to set up and manage a global collaboration project.  Some sources of projects and collaborators include:

 

Interactive Communications and Simulations at the University of Michigan (http://ics.soe.umich.edu)

Web-based simulations engage students in global collaboration and problem solving.  Projects are set and space is limited.  Most projects are more social studies based, although their Place Out of Time project for this year is focused on a trial that involves seismologists. In this project students play guests at a trial, take on a famous character from history and debate the issue at hand from the viewpoint of their character.  University students act as mentors or “game masters” for many of the simulations to drive the action and respond to students.  This is available free of charge for one year to new schools.

 

iEARN-USA (http://www.us.iearn.org)

According to their website, iEARN “enables students and teachers to design and participate in global projects as part of their regular and after-school programs.  All projects align to education standards and use a safe and structured online Collaboration Centre.” (http://www.us.iearn.org, Projects section)  All projects are designed to answer the question, “How will this project improve the quality of life on the planet?”  Participants come from all over the world and collaborate to make a difference while becoming global citizens.  Registration is required for both teachers and participating students.

iEARN provides already established projects or allows for creation of new projects.  They also provide online discussion forums to meet and discuss potential projects with collaborators around the world.  They also provide a how-to-get-started tutorial that outlines the process and provides a to-do list to find and join a project.  Among the projects listed are some dealing with eradication of malaria, deforestation and the impact of people on a local river.

 

ePals (http://www.epals.com/#!/global-community/)

ePals provides a method for connecting with other teachers who are seeking partners from all over the world.  Their database is searchable by region of the world or country, age level of students, project type, duration, type of collaboration and language, allowing, for example, the user to search for science projects taking place in South America.  Some of the projects currently listed included endangered animals, global warming and endemic diseases.

Teacher participants have the ability to either join someone else’s project or to design their own and seek collaborators.  Online tools including school safe email, blogs for both the project leaders and members, file exchange service, discussion forms, a project wiki and calendar are provided to allow for collaboration.  Also provided are resources such as parental consent forms, guidelines for using collaboration tools and user guides for the project leader.

 

Global SchoolNet (http://www.globalschoolnet.org)

Global SchoolNet works toward preparing youth in a global economy through content-driven collaboration.  They strive to build teamwork, civic responsibility, workforce preparedness and multi-cultural understanding within participants.  Registration is required and they have 30 current projects including projects on ecosystems, seasonal changes, and space base building.  Services are offered free of charge.  The site includes a registry of more than 3,000 annotated listings to assist users in finding collaborators.

In addition to the current projects which can be joined, participants are able to submit projects for inclusion on the website.  This site provides a potential source of collaborators and a mechanism for advertising projects.

 

This list of resources is by no means exhaustive. However, it provides a good start for teachers wanting to foster student global collaboration and development of 21st century skills.


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