Two Las Vegas High Schools Pilot NASA and SRI International Climate Change Education Project

Two Las Vegas High Schools Pilot NASA and SRI International Climate Change Education Project

West Las Vegas and Robertson High Schools are among six high schools nationwide selected to participate in an innovative NASA and SRI International pilot project for climate change education through a partnership with the New Mexico Highlands University GEAR-UP Program.
 
“We are helping pilot a project in which local science teachers will have access to NASA satellite data about climate change,” said Joe C de Baca, GEAR-UP director. “Students and their science teachers will use the data to conduct local climate studies.”
 
The pilot project will be implemented this fall at the Las Vegas high schools.
 
On June 2, representatives from NASA and SRI International presented a workshop about the climate change education initiative to science teachers from the two local high schools and the GEAR-UP staff.
 
The project is called Data-Enhanced Investigation for Climate Change Education, or DICCE. It was created by the independent nonprofit research company SRI International, formerly the Stanford Research Institute.
 
DICCE is funded is funded through NASA’s Global Climate Change Education Program.
The project design includes two interactive websites as well as all the supporting curriculum materials. The data pathway for the project is NASA’s GIOVANNI, the Goddard Interactive Online Visualization and Analysis Infrastructure.
 
 “Through this pilot project, I think students in northeastern New Mexico will get a much better understanding of how environmental issues of concern can be addressed,” said Jim Acker, a NASA senior research scientist based at the Goddard Space Flight Center.

“GEAR-UP is interested in innovative ways to engage students academically and we’re providing one particular science resource to do that.”
 

Dan Zalles is the senior learning scientist for SRI International. He designed the global climate change education pilot project and is implementing it. Zalles and Acker are co-principal investigators for the project.
 
“Access to data is empowering, and thinking like a scientist is being a critical consumer of data,” Zalles said. “In phase one of the NASA grant, we’re testing the project’s design. We call it proof of concept. Eventually, we want to make these climate change resources available online for all science teachers.”
 
West Las Vegas High School science teacher Christine Rodriguez and Robertson High School science teacher Donna Ortiz participated in the June 2 workshop at GEAR-UP.
“I like any opportunity where we can give the kids access to real data that connects to their world,” Ortiz said. “With this pilot project we can look at how climate affects resources in our community, like our water shortage. Then we can study implications for policy issues and resource restoration.
 
“We have really bright children here, and it’s exciting when they have the chance to interact with organizations like NASA and SRI. Projects like this can help our students realize that they can do anything,” Ortiz said.
 
Ortiz and Rodriguez are among 69 teachers in 23 northeastern New Mexico school districts who work with the Highlands GEAR-UP Program. The program serves approximately 1,200 middle and high school students.
 
GEAR-UP stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. Since 1999, this federally-funded program at Highlands has worked to increase the number of students in northeastern New Mexico who are prepared to enter college and succeed.