Stories from the Classroom: United States

Greg Reiva
iEARN Teacher
United States

On the Wednesday before Christmas vacation students in my second hour physical science class went online, through Adobe Connect, with teachers and students from the countries of Morocco and Tunisia in the Middle East. This experience brought home the relevance of collaboration in science and it illuminates the benefits of developing international connections in the pursuit of greater knowledge and understanding.

Rachel Manley, our facilitator with the iEARN Network helped to smooth our transition into video conferencing as we began collaborative discussions with peers from the Middle East  regarding similar experimental results  achieved when testing soils.

First experience with online video conferencing seemed magical as Streamwood High School was projected world-wide and our new friends from the Middle East expressed genuine excitement and interest. Teachers were able to share their experiences in doing similar science projects and it aroused feelings of almost giddiness having the opportunity to talk to peers that have been email correspondents before this event!

Students from Streamwood High School had the opportunity to share experiences on the project along with providing some insight into the benefits of doing this scientific endevour. We finished this exchange of ideas by wishing everyone involved a Merry Christmas and our Muslim friends were elated and wished us in kind. Memorable. A moving experience between students at Streamwood and people of Islamic culture. Powerful!

Fundamentally, the Earth Stewardship Project, as part of the iEARN Bridge Program, provides educators with a truly unique opportunity to involve students in investigative and problem solving challenges, while helping them develop their cognitive abilities to effectively communicate and collaborate with peers from across the world. This process involves students conducting inquiry into unknown areas of science and it provides the challenge to critically assess scientific findings while determining the validity of results.

I believe that the creativity and innovation that is the hallmark of scientific investigation and understanding provide students with the essential experiences and challenges to prepare for their positions in the world.  The multidisciplinary nature of these collaborative inquiry and project-based learning experience lay an educational foundation that parallels the needs for global citizenship.

Citizens living upon our planet, today, are more united than ever before through technological advances like cells phones and with respect to the need to tackle and solve world-wide problems like climate change, providing clean drinking water and in the production of food for a planet of over 7 billion people. We must pass on these learning opportunities to our students so they too can weigh in on solutions to these challenges and show the resilience to bring about real change in the world that they live in.