Crossing Boundaries and Exploring Biodiversity Conservation Using Information Technologies
Sixty secondary teachers and over 3000 of their students in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State will use geospatial and communication technologies to explore international environmental issues and careers as they interact with professionals.
Crossing Boundaries will provide middle and high school students with the knowledge, skills, motivation, and inspiration to use information and communication technologies (ICT) in addressing biodiversity conservation issues in regional and international contexts. The project will entail curriculum development, sustained teacher professional development, and opportunities for students to see scientific and environmental careers in action. Using geospatial technology, secondary students will analyze biodiversity conservation issues in their local or regional environment as well as in the Brazilian Amazon and in Chiapas, Mexico. A range of ICT options will enable students to interact with scientists, conservation professionals, undergraduate interns, and graduate students who are working on biodiversity-related research in international settings. Through production of web-mediated communications, students will use highly engaging technologies to collaborate with peers. Students will learn the analytic and technical skills necessary for analysis of environmental issues in local and international contexts. Project evaluation will determine the effectiveness of international computer-mediated communication and exploration in providing transformative experiences intended to bolster student interest in science, provide new perspectives on ICT-related career options, and deepen students' awareness of their role as global citizens. This project will benefit secondary students in central New York, especially those living in economically depressed rural or urban settings traditionally underrepresented in ICT fields. The relevant, project-based learning experiences will motivate students in environmental science courses for underperforming students, helping them succeed in school. Teachers will develop technological and pedagogical competence in ICT, enabling them to engage students in technology-intensive projects that will build global awareness and perspectives of career options.