This blog post was written by Jessica Kelly with the Office of Scholarly Communications.

Times are quite unusual as of lateFor a variety of reasons, many kids will be or already are attending school virtually, either completely or at least in part. Some kids have been attending school virtually or doing homeschool for much longer. There is no question that for all of these kids, a quality education is important. The question that does come to mind, though, is where does an educator – be it a licensed teacher, homeschooling parent, or anywhere in between – find high quality resources to bolster that quality education? Fortunately, for resources in STEM subjects – that is, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – parents and educators alike have a partner with not-for-profit, educational groups and organizations like the Center for Math and Science Education (CMASE) and GLOBE. 

The University of Arkansas CMASE – which stands for Center for Math and Science Education – is “one of 11 mathematics and science centers on university and college campuses around the state” that furnishes high-quality resources, materials, and presentations to the “home, private and public education community,” all free of charge. The CMASE is a busy center – it hosts the Northwest Arkansas Regional Science & Engineering Fair, a STEM Camp each summer, and a Science Café seriesThe CMASE also houses the Arkansas NASA Educator Resource Center, which provides educational materials from NASA.  And the CMASE is also a partner with the GLOBE Program. Fun fact: after GLOBE was founded in 1994, former director Lynne H. Hehr coordinated the very first GLOBE Partnership in 1997, implementing the program at the University of Arkansas). But what is GLOBE? 

The GLOBE Program – which stands for Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment – is a hands-on, interactive science & environmental education program that gives students and the global community the ability to participate in the scientific process. This collaboration process “contribute[s] meaningfully to [the collective] understanding of the Earth system and global environment.” As current CMASE Director Shawn Bell said, “GLOBE provides grade level-appropriate interdisciplinary activities and investigations about the [Earth’s Spheres –] atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and soil/pedosphere, which have been developed by the scientific community and validated by teachers. [It] connects students, teachers, scientists, and citizens from different parts of the world to conduct real, hands-on science about their local environment and to put this in a global perspective. 

Well that’s all interesting,” you might be thinking, “But why should I as a parent/educator care?” Consider some of these fun and engaging offerings from GLOBE:  

  • Elementary GLOBE – modules of learning activities on Earth system science for grades K-4 
  • “Learn About Earth from Home” collection – A collection of educational games, simulations, videos, online books, and short articles – the short articles could provide a great source of non-fiction reading for literacy work! 
  • Citizen science – including the GLOBE Observer (an app that allows people to submit collected Earth system science data & observations) and Regional Collaboration Initiatives (participating in active research campaigns) 

An added bonus is that the GLOBE materials are translated into multiple languages for use by many!  

The CMASE also has much to offer. Said Director Bell“CMASE has tons of science, math, and technology manipulatives, curriculum, and other resources that can be checked out for free for up to two weeks to all K-16 [which includes college faculty, staff, and students] home, private, and public in-service and pre-service educators.” 

For certified teachers, GLOBE offers professional development. According to Director Bell, GLOBE eTraining – which consists of downloadable training modules, interactive digital field and lab experiences, and online assessments of each module – provides the opportunity for new and existing GLOBE users to complete science protocol training “anytime, anywhere” – a boon during these times of physical distancing and remote learning! Director Bell further explained that free Arkansas professional development hours are available for each completed eTraining. 

Perhaps you have been homeschooling a long time, or maybe you are brand new to it. Perhaps your child is attending school completely virtually this year, or even just partially as part of a blended model. Regardless of the method by which kids are being educated this year, one thing is certain – there is a need for high quality resources across the board, in all subject matters. Organizations like the CMASE and GLOBE endeavor to fill part of that need in the STEM fieldWhether you are a parent, teacher, or even just a citizen scientist who wishes to be engaged, involved, and informed, take a look at what needs that GLOBE and the CMASE’s resources can fulfill for you. These educational materials are freely available for all people so please, take advantage of them!