Mexico Hosts its First National Conference of GLOBE Teachers
The Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) hosted the first national conference of GLOBE Teachers from November 15 to 17. The conference coincided with the 10th anniversary of the GLOBE program in Mexico and honored the work of Guadalupe Pardo as GLOBE Coordinator during the administration of President Fox (2000-2006). Pardo and her team expanded the program substantially; up to date, there are 102 GLOBE schools in 28 states of Mexico.
SEMARNAT sponsored the first conference of GLOBE teachers in the Recreational Center of Oaxtepec, State of Morelos. Dr. Tiahoga Ruge, Coordinator of SEMARNAT's Center for Education and Sustainable Development (CECADESU) opened the conference accompanied by SEMARNAT's delegate in the State of Morelos and representatives from main partner institutions: Juan Antonio Nevarez, Technical Director of the System of Technical Secondary Schools in Mexico City and Raul Galvan, Director of the Environmental Division in the Technological University of Nezahualcoyotl. Dr. Ruge acknowledged the good work lead by Guadalupe to expand GLOBE notwithstanding budgetary limitations. A special appreciation was expressed to GLOBE teachers for devoting extra time, beyond their normal activities, to working with GLOBE.
Conference participants included 71 teachers from 14 states of Mexico, who shared their experiences and strategies on their work with GLOBE, and academicians (trainers and master trainers) that directed workshops on some of the program's protocols. They also exhibited posters, photographs and handcrafts related to GLOBE. Lorraine de Ruiz, National Coordinator of GLOBE in the Dominican Republic came to Mexico to share her experiences on the hummingbirds protocol and outreach strategies.
Conference highlights multiple benefits of GLOBE
GLOBE has been a useful tool to teach science and environmental topics to Mexican children. Officials from the public system of technical secondary schools in Mexico City have included GLOBE in their curricula and request science teachers to adopt the program. High schools and universities that provide a technical degree for environmental and agricultural related fields have also included GLOBE in their curricula.
Teachers agree that GLOBE has been an excellent incentive to improve students' grades and an active method to teach environmental and scientific concepts. GLOBE has helped students to increase their analytical capabilities and to improve their self-esteem and teamwork.
Outstanding achievements of the past six years
Guadalupe Pardo and her team (two colleagues in CECADESU) have highlighted GLOBE as one of their main programs to promote environmental education. They've been successful on the use of the train the trainers' model and have integrated a regional cadre of GLOBE trainers to expand the program throughout Mexico. Six years ago, when they took charge of the program, there were 25 GLOBE schools mainly located in the Valley of Mexico. Now the number has increased to 102 GLOBE schools in 28 states! This accomplishment is the result of 44 training workshops provided to 1292 teachers from almost all the states of the country.
During Pardo's tenure, several events helped her to promote GLOBE:
- Participation of Mexican academicians in International GLOBE Train the Trainer workshops to become Trainers and Master Trainers.
- A digital videoconference held in the US Embassy where GLOBE students from Mexico and Miami exchanged their monitoring experiences under the White Water to Blue Water Initiative.
- A grant from UNESCO and GLOBE for implementation of the program in El Tajin World Heritage Site.
- Approval from officials from the State of Baja California Sur to include GLOBE in the programs that improve the professional development of their local teachers.
- A conference of GLOBE students from technical secondary schools in Mexico City.
- Jessica Robin's visit (NASA scientist) to promote GLOBE in several locations of Mexico during the 2006 World Environment Day.
There are several challenges to keeping GLOBE healthy and growing. Conference participants offered the following suggestions: Get support from the private sector to sponsor GLOBE schools. Make sure that GLOBE schools keep reporting their observations by Internet; several GLOBE schools lack Internet connection. Facilitate exchange of information between different schools, go beyond environmental monitoring and facilitate scientific projects. Offer GLOBE training workshops periodically to maintain GLOBE teachers that often change to other schools. Provide different levels of GLOBE workshops to improve GLOBE teachers' skills. Establish regional GLOBE offices to keep track of the program. Create an electronic web page for Mexican GLOBE teachers and hold videoconferences to facilitate the exchange of experiences between students and teachers.
GLOBE in Mexico is to be congratulated for the many accomplishments it has achieved in the last ten years. It serves as a model for what can be accomplished in environmental education through the outstanding efforts of teachers and students, and of the many academicians, partner organizations, conference organizers and local officials who recognize the value of their work and who support and sustain them.
07 February 2007