Developing a Student-Scientist Partnership: Boreal Forest Watch

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Abstract

A student-scientist partnership outreach program was funded by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Boreal Ecosystem-Atmosphere Study (BOREAS) to involve students and teachers in scientific investigations pertinent to global change research occurring within the boreal region of Canada. Boreal Forest Watch was planned, designed and piloted by an interdisciplinary group of education and science professionals from the University of New Hampshire, the Prince Albert National Park, and several schools in central Saskatchewan, Canada. A two goal approach was adopted to 1) ensure the educational significance of the program and 2) introduce scientifically valid methods for collection of research data pertinent to global change scientists. Professional educators and school administrators from Saskatchewan were recruited to assist in project planning to ensure that the proposed activities fit within the existing curriculum framework. This process was essential for successful adoption of the program by participating teachers. The process and approach of initiating Boreal Forest Watch are presented in this paper. This program became fully functional in September, 1996 with the training of several participating teachers. Perspectives of the program and its future are provided by members of the design team. Boreal Forest Watch is a unique opportunity for both Canadian students and their teachers to explore their natural environment, learn scientific methods and principles, and contribute data to the global change research community.

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