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Thursday, 12 January 2017 04:55

Youth Watch – Observing the Earth for NASA Scientists

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Observing. Critical Thinking. Accurate Recording. Reflection.

These are much needed skills for living in the complexities of today's world. Developing these skills helps round out youths' abilities to navigate in and contribute to a better world, whether as a concerned person or a student looking towards a future career in science or technology.

You can support your students to have fun, learn the habits of mind of scientists, and gain some real skills observing and contributing data to aid NASA scientists in understanding the Earth! Youth can be "on watch" to keep track of the world around them, making observations outdoors, and contributing those observations so that scientists can use them in their research.

NASA has easy-to-use "no-tech" (hands-on, and outdoor observations) and "low-tech" resources (for example, taking observations and uploading photos) available to after school citizen scientists. NASA's GLOBE program (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) invites after school youth and leaders to make environmental observations that complement NASA satellite observations to help scientists studying Earth.

The GLOBE Observer application focuses on capturing cloud observations that help NASA scientists understand clouds from below (the ground) and above (from space). Clouds are easy to observe from most afterschool sites, and not only tell us about the weather from day to day, but play an important driving role in what the weather and climate are like. Clouds can change quickly – so what's happening at your site during your afterschool time is important for scientists to know, since they need frequent observations from citizen scientists to keep up with current conditions.

Macintosh HD:Users:lllowes:Desktop:Cu2.jpgNot only can youth spend time outdoors (or observe the outdoors if it's too hot, cold, or rainy to be out), but they get to learn about how to classify things, and complement their imagination ("cotton-ball rabbits", "horse tails", or even "elephants" in the sky) with accurate observations, noting layers of clouds with different shapes at different heights and learning the names scientists use to classify them. GLOBE Observer provides a step-by-step process for observing and reporting the type of data scientists need. You can report via a free App, email, desktop computer, or mail in a paper form. [photo taken by Dr. Bruce Wielicki, NASA's Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System" Principal Investigator]

Give your students 21st Century observing skills and have fun doing it!. Hear from a NASA scientist about why cloud observations matter in this short video: GLOBE Observer Cloud Science.

For those wanting to dig deeper into contributions that students can make, or to encourage your students' teachers to learn more, visit the Globe Program.   

Macintosh HD:Users:lllowes:Desktop:Screen Shot 2016-12-02 at 3.51.28 PM.png

[view of clouds from the International Space Station]

In honor of the great outdoors, this morning for breakfast I had a seasonal fresh-made dish of my amazing home-made apple sauce, cooked in a crock-pot with only cinnamon added!

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Leslie Lowes

Informal Education Specialist
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Los Angeles, CA


Leslie Lowes has more than 15 years of leadership positions for NASA education projects, working with regional, state, and national afterschool organizations to infuse fun and real-world STEM activities into afterschool.  She firmly believes in the power of person discovery in afterschool - Leslie oversees a NASA afterschool time solar system exploration curriculum project, and provides STEM professional development for OST leaders to build their interest and capacity for bringing NASA STEM to their programs.  Leslie has presented at numerous local, regional, and state conferences.  She participated in the California statewide STEM strategic planning effort and serves on the California Afterschool Network STEM committee.   



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