Buxmont Academy science teachers chosen for international GLOBE climate program

Left to right: Buxmont Academy Science Teachers Juliet McCleery, Judy Foulke and Joan Balla.

Three science teachers from Buxmont Academy in Bethlehem, Sellersville and Feasterville were chosen out of more than 500 applicants from around the world to receive grants to participate in a workshop provided by GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment), a worldwide, hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science education program.

Joan Balla, Buxmont’s science chair, from Buxmont’s Bethlehem school; Judy Foulke, from the Feasterville school; and Juliet McCleery, from the Sellersville school, are joining about 40 other science teachers from July 9 through 13 at the University of Colorado in Boulder to learn how to engage their students in the GLOBE Student Climate Research Campaign (SCRC). The program teaches students to collect, analyze and share climate data via an international database, as well as communicate their experiences with students from as many as 112 nations around the world, via web-based teleconferences. The data entered by the students will become part of an essential databank employed by climatologists to track the state of the environment.

The Buxmont Academy teachers say that the GLOBE program will help advance Buxmont’s STEM (science technology engineering and mathematics) curriculum, a key theme in education today. Balla says she hopes the program will give students “an appreciation and a sense of ownership of the world we are inheriting — a personal stake in their environment, not merely a theoretical one.” Says Foulke, “This is real science, to be used by real scientists.” McCleery stresses the program’s multicultural aspects, noting that the students will be participating every other week in international webinars to share data and discuss their findings via Skype. In this way they will learn what life is like in other countries and build relationships with students from cultures very different from their own.

Balla thinks she and her colleagues were chosen to take part in the GLOBE program because the judges were impressed with Buxmont’s focus on restorative practices, which helps students take responsibility for the choices they make, as well as the fact that Buxmont’s staff continually seek out opportunities that enable students to enhance their knowledge and skills as part of their individual education plans.