Project Name: Climate Change, Adaptation, and Mitigation in Prince William Sound
Project Status: CURRENT
Selection Year: 2009
Organization: Chugach School District
Project Description Project Investigator
Project Objective:
To increase knowledge and understanding of global climate change and to use that knowledge for community action, thereby illustrating how other systems are interrelated with Earth’s climate.

1. 22 elementary and secondary teachers will be trained in GLOBE climate measurement protocols, and in use of POLAR PALOOZA and NASA climate education data and resources.
2. Teachers implement interdisciplinary climate science activities and units in the classroom and participate in GLOBE climate measurement activities.
3. Community members invited to participate in organized climate science activities and data collection.
4. High school students will author a plan for alternative, sustainable energy use in Prince William Sound. Scientists and graduate students from the International Arctic Research Center at University of Alaska Fairbanks will be the expert resources for the plan.

Proposal Significance:
This project addresses two of the NASA funding categories. Primarily, it will strengthen the teaching and learning about global climate change within Chugach School District, a rural Alaska school district. About half of the district’s 220 students live in one of three coastal communities in Prince William Sound; two of the communities are traditional Alutiiq Native villages. Forty percent of the student population is Alaska Native, a group traditionally underrepresented in STEM training and careers. The other half of the CSD student population are scattered over 22,000 miles and taught through collaboration between Chugach Extension School teachers and parents.

This project will increase student understanding of math and science concepts and their ability to communicate those concepts in writing and speech. Students will use NASA Earth observing data and NASA Earth system models to learn about global climate change and apply that knowledge to a locally important issue. A multidisciplinary approach will be used to integrate climate change and climate science knowledge with language arts, social studies/government, and math. This project will result in a locally relevant deliverable created by students, with staff and community participation: A plan for alternative energy use in the three Prince William Sound, Alaska communities of Tatitlek, Chenega Bay, and Whittier that is based on the ability to understand and use climate science information and data, and a solid understanding of the phenomenon of global climate change.

Within this project, teacher competency for global climate change education will increase, which is related to the NASA educator professional development objective. At the start of the project teachers will be trained in GLOBE science measurement protocols and use of Polar Palooza education resources. Together, teachers and students will use the climate science resources and expertise available at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska. Professional development for Chugach School District teachers is an especially sound investment because the district enjoys the highest staff retention rate of any school district in Alaska - even more notable because Chugach School District is classified as rural and remote. Alaska’s rural school districts have average staff retention rates between 65% to 80% while the retention rate in Chugach annually tops 90%.

This project represents a systematic approach to addressing an important need in rural Alaska for energy that is sustainable, socially responsible, and cost-effective. The proposal is congruent with other Green Jobs activities and proposals emerging in Alaska through ARRA-funded competitions. The project features the use of Eluminate and Polycom technologies as a tool for delivery of instruction to Chugach Extension School students, and also for professional development for teachers in situ.

Douglas Penn
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