The GLOBE California Academy Program

The GLOBE California Academy Program

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In October 2011, WestEd and University of California Berkeley’s Career Academy Support Network (CASN) received a three-year collaborative ITEST Strategies grant to improve learning and workforce development in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and in information and communication technology (ICT)—especially for underserved students. The proposed strategy integrates the hands-on science pedagogy of the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program [1] into the multi-year curriculum of the California green high school academies [2]. The GLOBE California Academy Program (CAP) engages students in research related to climate change, provides career development activities, and supports teachers in career academies through professional development and other forms of support that focus on the growing renewable energy and clean technology workforce sector.

Hands-on laboratory experiences and inquiry- and project-based learning have long been standard features of science education. Project-based learning can also be part of a multi-disciplinary strategy to engage students and prepare them more effectively for college and careers. In career academies, students implement projects that both strengthen their science practices and connect the content and practices to students’ career aspirations. Furthermore, integral to career academies are opportunities for students to engage in “work-based learning”—an extension of project-based learning beyond the classroom that is linked to professional standards and transferable 21st century skills, uses employer or community interaction to engage students, and intentionally promotes learning and access to future educational and career opportunities (Darche, Bracco & Nayar, 2009). The GLOBE initiative offers students the opportunity to contribute to real science by using high-quality scientist-developed protocols, and entering their data into an international database for scientific analysis, which is consistent with this definition of work-based learning. Students not only learn, but produce outcomes of value to others beyond school. These kinds of experiences also activate adolescents’ developing sense of agency (Bandura, 2006), which may produce further positive outcomes. Finally, the structure of the academies, based on cohort scheduling over three years, offers coherence and continuity for students over time, and supports academic skill-building as well as both career and socio-emotional development from one grade to the next. This structure also allows for the embedding of multi-year initiatives. GLOBE CAP will build students’ knowledge and skill over a span of three years as follows:

  • 9th and 10th grades: Students focus on collecting data using GLOBE protocols and learning activities, understand science from scientists, and gain exposure to the career path of a scientist through direct interaction.
  • 11th grade: Students continue to collect data but, in addition, develop their analytical skills through data visualization and interpretation; begin collaboration with sister schools in other countries to build global awareness; and continue career exploration in STEM fields.
  • 12th grade: Students continue to collect, interpret, and create visualizations of data but also explore the links to public policy, and they apply their knowledge and skill in a service learning project or social enterprise in their local community.

GLOBE California Academy Program (CAP) presentation at STEM Smart: Pathways to Middle-Skill Occupations and Beyond, Needham, MA, May 2014.

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2013