CLN > Climate Change Education Projects > CYCLES: Teachers Discovering Climate Change from a Native Perspective

CYCLES: Teachers Discovering Climate Change from a Native Perspective

Principal Investigators: Gillian Roehrig, Karen Campbell, Diana Dalbotten, STEM Education Center, 320 VoTech Education
National Science Foundation Grant # NNX10AT53A

Project Description

Building on three successful, established programs in northern Minnesota (gidaa, TRIBES-E, and RFTS) that foster Native American STEM education through both formal and informal education, we propose the CYCLES program to initiate a 3-year immersion of teachers into the study of global climate change. Challenges related to global climate change (GCC) are faced by all Americans. Native American communities are especially concerned about these challenges since change in climate present challenges to land and water management, adversely affecting native communities whose ties to the land are both economic and cultural. Thus, CYCLES addresses the need for Global Climate Change Education (GCCE) with a focus on Native perspectives. CYCLES will develop an innovative approach to understanding and teaching about GCC that is native friendly, place-based, holistic and interdisciplinary, technologically rich, and incorporates NASA data, models, and simulations.


Twenty middle and high school teachers from reservation schools will participate in the project that includes a two-week summer workshop each year. During the summer workshops teachers will be actively involved in doing GCC science, both in the field with local projects and working with existing NCED and NASA data. Teachers will learn how to use NASA tools to visualize and model GCC change to answer questions about GCC. All activities will be modeled using inquiry-based pedagogy and the culturally-responsive Seven Elements of STEM Learning. During the academic year, teachers will implement lessons and activities from the summer workshops in their classrooms with support from the CYCLES staff.

The CYCLES Project directly addresses all of the NASA GCCE project goals and in addition, supports NASA's cultivation of diversity as a core value for all NASA education efforts. The specific objectives for the CYCLES project are:

  1. Strengthen teachers' understanding of fundamental Earth-System Science and Global Climate Change concepts
  2. Develop GCC teaching strategies that are culturally-responsive
  3. Improve teachers' knowledge of and implementation of GCC education resources
  4. Increase students' knowledge of GCC

The CYCLES team includes leadership in teachers professional development and inquiry-based instruction (Roehrig), local cultural expertise in STEM instruction (Dalbotten and Gourneau) and GCC research (coordinated by Campbell through NCED). NCED is a consortium of eight partner universities, the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC), and the Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM). NCED faculty are involved in bringing together methods and understanding from ecology, geology, civil engineering, hydrology, and biology into a new interdisciplinary field of ecogeomorphology. NCED researchers combine field studies, laboratory research, and computational models to create a quantitative and predictive approach to Earth-surface processes. The project team also includes the Minnesota Planetarium Society (Halverson) and utilizes their ExlporaDome for 3D visualization of NASA data sets for both teachers during the summer workshops and students during the academic year.

Contact Information:

Gillian Roehrig
STEM Education Center
320 VoTech Education
1954 Buford Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55108
Phone: 612-625-0561
Fax: 612-626-0993
roehr013@umn.edu

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