FLEXE (From Local to Extreme Environments) Education & Outreach opportunity

Lau Basin cruise featured on GLOBE educational website (16 May – 8 June 2009):
Press release: http://media-newswire.com/release_1092673.html

A cruise to the Lau Basin, led by PIs Fisher, Luther and Girguis (USA) will be featured on the GLOBE website as part of the NSF-funded FLEXE (From Local to Extreme Environments) project. GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) is a web-based international science education program that joins scientists, students, and teachers in 110 countries in studying Earth Systems Science. Approximately 1500 students in four countries are currently involved in a pilot of on-line components and instructional materials, and will be tuning in to follow this cruise via the website. The site features log entries, blogs, podcasts, and a live webstreamed phone call from students at GLOBE HQ to scientists and crew mid-cruise.*

InterRidge has partnered with the FLEXE (From Local to Extreme Environments) project, a GLOBE Earth System Science Project (http://www.globe.gov/projects/flexe). FLEXE provides an opportunity for ridge-crest scientists to be involved with education and outreach to teachers and students in their native countries and across the globe. The FLEXE Program tested an Energy Unit in 2007 and is now soliciting teachers to pilot an extended version of this unit beginning in early 2009. A second unit on ecology is in development. Please find more information about these activities below. For questions, or to find out how you can serve as a mentor or contact for teachers in your country who are involved with FLEXE, please contact PI Liz Goehring (exg15@psu.edu).

GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science and education program (http://www.globe.gov). GLOBE's vision promotes and supports students, teachers and scientists to collaborate on inquiry-based investigations of the environment and the Earth system. The international GLOBE network includes representatives from > 100 participating countries. To get in contact with a GLOBE representative in your country, use this link: http://www.globe.gov/fsl/INTL/table.pl.

FLEXE Energy Unit
The 2007 version of the FLEXE Energy Unit was tested by GLOBE teachers and students from the USA and Germany. The activities engaged students in:
- Analyzing temperature datasets from different environments: min/max air temperature from other GLOBE schools, surface and air temperature in their school yard, and ocean and vent fluid temperature datasets from "extreme" environments in the deep ocean;
- Developing conceptual models to understand energy transfer processes in the Earth system;
- Interacting with deep-sea scientists through the Web-based FLEXE Forum to deepen and apply their understanding of energy transfer processes to other parts of the Earth system - the extreme environment of a hydrothermal vent.

During the 2008-2009 school year, FLEXE will be incorporating suggestions from 2007 Pilot participants and conducting the final evaluation of crucial system components. In particular, new components include:
- Exploring similarities and differences in local environments with a partner school elsewhere in the world;
- Conducting investigations on the effect of temperature 'extremes' on local organisms;
- Presenting their findings in scientific papers to peers (students in their own country or in another country) for evaluation and feedback.

FLEXE and GLOBE plan to release the Energy Unit and components of the unit to the broader GLOBE community in fall 2009.

FLEXE Ecology Unit
The FLEXE team is currently working on a unit on Extreme Ecology. The unit will engage students in exploring and comparing life in extreme environments with life in their own environment. Topics will include:
- Getting started with Identification: Surveying a study site - both local and extreme - to identify abiotic and biotic factors;
- Understanding Relationships: Building Food webs to understand relationships and trophic levels of community, particularly the base of the food web and the importance of microbes;
- Conditions for Life: Culturing microbes under different environmental conditions to understand how biotic and abiotic factors influence life;
- Meeting the Challenge of the Environment: Exploring how organisms meet the challenge of the environment - extreme or otherwise - through adaptations that allow them to survive;
- Ecosystem Studies: Understanding effects of environmental conditions on animal distributions.

This second unit is scheduled to be available for teachers and students in fall 2009.