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Center for Educational Technologies projects have ended (except Challenger Learning Center) and are no longer funded.

Exploring the Environment Site to Expand with NASA Grant

Fri Apr 16 2010

Middle school and high school students will engage educators in global climate change issues thanks to a nearly $210,000 grant that NASA has awarded the Center for Educational Technologies.

NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA, will partner with the Center for Educational Technologies on the joint Global Climate Change Education project. The grant of $209,915 will fund the project for two years. According to the grant award letter, of the 161 proposals submitted, NASA program officers rated the Center for Educational Technologies proposal as having among the most innovative approaches, promising outcomes, and close alignment to NASA's programmatic goals.

The Center for Educational Technologies will update, enhance, and expand existing online problem-based learning modules on its award-winning website, Exploring the Environment®. The improvements will include teacher and student use of NASA satellite images and remote sensing data in studying global climate change. NASA climate science experts will work with developers in Wheeling on the project. In addition to revising existing modules, the center will develop new ones related to the five indicators of global climate change—sea level, ice mass, global temperature, ozone, and atmospheric carbon dioxide.

"This funding provides a great opportunity for the Center for Educational Technologies to build on prior successful projects," said Laurie Ruberg, associate director of the center and principal investigator for the project. "The Exploring the Environment problem-based learning modules were developed almost 15 years ago but continue to be extremely popular among middle and high school teachers nationwide. We have a ready audience to provide the enhanced material and additional NASA data resources."

Exploring the Environment develops students' awareness of planet Earth. The site's 25 online modules and activities immerse students in problem-based learning scenarios derived from actual situations. The free modules cover topics such as weather, population growth, biodiversity, land use patterns, volcanoes, water pollution, and global warming. Students use remote sensing and other techniques to formulate problem statements, collect and analyze data, prepare and present their findings, and recommend solutions. The site features modules for students in kindergarten all the way through high school.

On average, each year the Exploring the Environment website receives more than 12 million hits from 600,000 unique users from more than 120 countries and all 50 states. Over the years Exploring the Environment has won numerous awards for the quality of its website and resources.