Friday, May 29, 2009

Georgia State wins NASA grant to improve climate change education, monitor carbon dioxide

Georgia State University will use a recently awarded $499,950 grant from NASA to help improve learning about global climate change for high schoolers, undergraduates and teachers in training, in addition to purchasing a unique urban carbon dioxide monitor to further research and teaching in the field.

At its core, the initiative will use NASA data and other resources to engage students participating in a course on weather and climate.

In addition to more than 1,000 Georgia State students each year, including candidates for the Master of Arts in Teaching, the university will create new pathways for the participation of students in the Carver Early College program — which gives high school students the opportunity to take college classes at the university.

Teachers in training will also have an opportunity to earn a NASA Earth and Space Science Certificate via their work in the weather and climate course labs.

“Education about global climate change is essential for everyone in today’s world, and doing it in the compelling context of NASA research motivates learning in science, math and reading,” said Cherilynn Morrow, professor of physics and astronomy and leader of the Georgia State initiative.

“Additionally, companies considering locating in Georgia want to know that we have a workforce which has had educational access to excellent geosciences courses related to energy, climate and other disciplines,” Morrow said. “Climate change is a great interdisciplinary topic for all of the sciences.”

Georgia State is one of 22 institutions receiving a total of $6.4 million in grants to enhance climate science education and spark interest in science through the use of NASA’s Earth science resources, including observation data and NASA Earth system models.

Resources from the NASA grant will help enhance the content of one of the university’s introductory geosciences courses, which introduces weather and climate, by giving a hands-on experience with the data and tools professional scientists use to monitor climate change. Georgia State will work to recruit and support Carver Early College students to this course in hopes of exciting their interest in the sciences.

Graduate students in the Master of Arts in teaching program at Georgia State will have similar access to NASA resources to better prepare them to teach earth sciences through opportunities such as a summer institute at the university, Morrow said.

Funds will also go to the purchase of a carbon dioxide monitor which will be used in Atlanta’s urban environment. Data collected from this monitor will be used by students and teachers-in-training to learn more about a gas which contributes to climate change.

The Georgia State initiative will combine efforts of the Georgia State Department of Geosciences, the Georgia State College of Education, GSU’s Center for Teaching and Learning, the university’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, the University System of Georgia Early College Program, and the University System of Georgia Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Initiative.

"We have an extraordinary and talented array of partners involved in this effort that will enable us to make a difference statewide, not just at Georgia State," Morrow said.

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