Kids as Global Scientists (KGS)



Résumé, summary

KGS research indicates that students value the new opportunities to learn which the telecommunications tools and organization of middle school sites provide. Student motivation to learn is very high. As a result of the extensive dialogue with mentors and peers on-line, student explanations are rich with personal stories of weather events intertwined with complex scientific explanations. We believe providing opportunities for students to see multiple views of the same data, and to dialogue about it with interested and knowledgeable peers and adults is an important vehicle for the development of rich, integrated, and meaningful understandings in science. With KGS, students are able to view data they collect themselves displayed along with professional data on regional or national maps; as well as local and regional weather displayed on satellite images and temperature maps, or on Quick-Time movie collections of these images. Many students exclaim that they greatly appreciate this opportunity to get a rich, and more meaningful view of science, where personal communication is used as an important vehicle for collaboration and learning, rather than utilizing a majority of static or impersonal sources for information.

Discipline, subject :

sciences de la terre Erdwissenschaft Earth sciences scienze della terra telematics télématique

Public :

cycle d'orientation Sek I, BWK lower high school ciclo d'orientamento

Contacts :

Songer, Nancy Butler

School of Education/CB 249

Tel : School of Education/
Mail :
Fax : (303) 492-7090

Pédagogie, pedagogy :

The Kids as Global Scientists program (KGS) has developed an eight-week, interactive, middle school curriculum in weather science based on a model of global information exchange. Each year, students from 30 classrooms world-wide collect and share their own data, real-time images, and dialogue about real, and often sensational weather events. Global exchanges encourage: 1) learning which can capitalize on today's science developments; 2) peer coaching and information exchange; and 3) communications as a "hook" for meaningful science knowledge development. Learning Aspects: Many KGS students learn to: 1) provide much richer explanations of local and distant weather phenomena; 2) utilize technological tools fluently, including employing a much wider range of resources for information and data collection; and 3) find greater meaning and personal connection to both their distant correspondents and the topics they are studying.

Apprentissage, learning :

The project focuses on maximizing the educational potential of our Internet-based middle school weather curriculum. Teachers act mainly as facilitators for student research, rather than as providers of direct instruction. One of the strongest project outcomes is the dramatic enthusiasm students and teachers hold for research and collaborative projects of this kind. Every iteration, several teachers spontaneously tell us that "KGS was the highlight of my year" or even "the highlight of my teaching career."

Enseignement, teaching :

Technique :

Our curricular shell is designed to accommodate a variety of connectivity levels, because of the diversity of the technology available in today's schools. For example, some sites are able to use Blue Skies, a new software package developed by the University of Michigan's Weather Underground. This software provides streamlined access to real-time and archival weather data from around the world, as well as a standard data recording/posting option. However, the software has specific hardware and connectivity requirements, so most schools participate in the traditional KGS format, utilizing other Internet weather resources, local newspapers, radio, and television broadcasts as their data sources.

Société, society :

Teamwork is a major focus of the project. Each team of three to four students conducts investigations on their own weather topic in the second phase of the KGS project, working together to become the experts on that topic for the class. During the third and final phase, student team members collaborate to compose e-mail inquiries about the local weather at distant KGS sites, as well as answers for the questions that other sites send to them.

Culture :

Teams of students have the opportunity to converse via e-mail with other student teams from all over the world, learning a little about life in different, distant communities through comparing and contrasting how the weather is affecting them. Logistic and Institutional Aspects: Teams will need access to a computer with Internet-connectivity each day to post their data and to send and receive messages from other sites.

Institution :

Logistique :

Teachers must be comfortable with using e-mail, so they can guide the student teams in learning to use the technology effectively to communicate with distant KGS sites.

Remarques, remarks :

Over the past three years, approximately 3000 middle school students have participated in KGS Global Exchanges, with the Spring 95 Exchange involving 1600 students in 30 world-distributed locations. This initiative is led by Dr. Nancy Butler Songer, Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado's School of Education and Institute of Cognitive Science, and has been funded by the Applications of Advanced Technologies division of the National Science Foundation. Additional information about the KGS project and curriculum can be found on the Kids as Global Scientists homepage, which can be found on the World Wide Web at the following address: