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Category: Education

Training of scientists is a key issue in many of the ACCENT tasks and subprojects. This task specifically wants to bring attention to the wide scientific issues tackled in ACCENT via education and training, and to provide individuals and/or teams with a diversity of skills and competencies, including new didactical approaches, the use of new learning technologies and the ability for interdisciplinary co-operation.

The Importance Of Astragalus In The Study Of Air Pollution

During my previous employment, I served on the governing board of an environmental think tank that produced several educational videos. Mostly on the topic of atmospheric chemistry and air pollution. The think tank is part of a larger organization, and our work was disseminated to several other local educational institutions, including public schools. Throughout the production of the videos, one of the recurring themes was the importance of community engagement to solve these complex problems. In some cases, we were able to increase parent involvement through the creation of lesson plans and questionnaires. Other times, we simply had open discussions with concerned parents. Many parents expressed frustration that the usual solutions – increasing home ventilation or purifying the air through HEPA filters – just did not have enough impact to make a difference.

atmospheric chemistry and air pollution

It was becoming increasingly clear to me that we needed to develop a curriculum that would engage students, present them with the scientific method and provide them with the opportunity to obtain individualized education in the areas of air pollution control. My research focused on two areas in particular; the use of particulates in the environment, and the effect of acid rain on trees.

My studies revealed a disturbing trend where the growth of vegetation was affected by increased levels of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere. As a result, we began developing lessons on air pollution control that using the same observational approach to explain the process by which various compounds became pollutants, as well as how we could minimize their impact on the environment.

Collaborating for teaching purposes

While working in the think tank, I also became aware of the need for a unified approach to teaching the subject. I realized that there were certain gaps in the knowledge of many people, including those who were leading the effort to improve air quality in our nation. By connecting our educational efforts to atmospheric chemistry and working on our teams to design lessons, we were able to draw on a variety of resources to reach a broad spectrum of educators. Through collaboration, we were able to present multiple viewpoints that were then discussed and shared in a manner that was enjoyable and informative for all.

In the process of educating others about atmospheric chemistry, we began to gain valuable experience in the design of lesson plans and presentation methods. We were able to tailor lessons to meet the needs of our clients. Through collaborating, we also were able to make presentations that would engage the children. We were able to draw on experiences of others in the field. As we shared lessons with one another, we also gained valuable insights from each other regarding the challenges we faced and the solutions we came up with.

By working together, we were able to develop meaningful and teachable lessons. The concepts presented in the lesson plan were also illustrated through photographs showing different types of contrails and gases released in the air. This helped us show the child the various types of gases and contrails, as well as how they affect the environment.

Digital tools helping nature

For many individuals, the concept of teaching is very personal. We felt that if we shared our own personal experiences, we would be able to make a profound impact on our students. Through teaching others, we hope to instill a sense of value and responsibility to the education process. Also, sharing our own personal stories can help us gain an understanding of the emotional and social factors involved in dealing with air pollution.

Greenpeace :: OutlandishWhile teaching the importance of atmospheric chemistry and air pollution to the education process, we also wanted to illustrate the importance of preserving the earth’s atmosphere. Containing the increase of air pollution is one way we are able to do this. The creation of this digital age has also allowed us to showcase the importance of preserving our air. Through our website, we have posted articles that talk about the effects of air pollution on our bodies as well as the different ways we can work towards preventing air pollution.

Educating others about air pollution makes it possible to see first hand the different consequences of inhaling air pollution. We want people to know that there are many different solutions for the problem and we hope that by sharing the experiences of others, we will be able to influence other people to act responsibly. There are many different laws in different cities that prevent individuals from burning coal and wood in their homes. By sharing our stories, we hope that one day in the near future, everyone will be educated about the importance of preventing air pollution.

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ACCENT Mentoring Programme

“Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.”
Eric Parsloe, The Oxford School of Coaching & Mentoring

The ACCENT Mentoring Programme is carried out jointly with the EU project ENSEMBLES, other EU projects will join. The first Mentor-Mentee pairs have successfully carried out or completed a mentoring process.

ACCENT T&E encourages you to become involved in this exciting opportunity as a Mentor or Mentee. Letters of intent (download here) should be sent to the ACCENT T&E Coordinator (Dr Evi Schuepbach; cabo@giub.unibe.ch).

ACCENT T&E recommends that Mentor-Mentee pairs discuss and agree on the goals to be achieved and sign a small contract (download here). The issue that the Mentee wishes to tackle with the Mentor is confidential. The mentoring period can run for a year or less. Mentoring can be carried out by email (if both parties agree), internet phone, or with face-to-face meetings. The mentoring period can run for a year or less; contacts are recommended to take place on a monthly basis.

The ACCENT Mentoring Programme is administered by the Task “Training & Education” and supported by the Gender Awareness Group.

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Interactive Learning Tools in Chinese
The Chinese translations of the e-learning environment on global change mark the beginning of a new post-ACCENT era on global learning in air quality and climate change science with activities starting in 2010.

Further reading:
E. Schuepbach (Ed.), 2009, We Care for Clean Air! Motivating the Next Generation of Atmospheric Scientists, 94 p, ISBN 978-88-95665-01-6.

E. Uherek, E. Schuepbach, 2008, European Efforts in Earth Science and Climate Change Education, Physical Geography, 2008, 29, 6, 545-560.

Awareness Seminar in Bangalore, India
Both, general science education issues and local/regional needs were addressed. The overview presentation by E. Schuepbach on teaching material developed in ACCENT “Training and Education” was well received. The Seminar ended with a media conference, and a newspaper article was released the following day, stressing the importance of environmental awareness and the importance of education.

Download the newspaper article here.

Download the presentation given by E. Schuepbach here.

Download the Seminar report here here.

ACCENT Training Workshop in Guangzhou, China

An ACCENT T&E Workshop was held at Sun Yat-Sen (Zhongshan) University, Guangzhou, China, from 22-27 July 2009. The Workshop was integrated in a Summer School on Biodiversity organized by Prof. Shixiao YU, School of Life Sciences, Dept. of Ecology, funded by the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China. The ACCENT Workshop on “Changing Paradigms in Atmospheric Chemistry” focused on primary and secondary pollutants with respect to health and policy issues. It offered lectures and group work in both science and transferable skills including team building and leadership, interdisciplinary disagreement, media analysis, and science communication to non-scientists. About 150 postgraduate students from 40 Universities in China participated in the ACCENT Workshop that carried the sub-title “Learning about the Past for Leaders of the Future”. Lectures were given and group work was chaired by 6 European ACCENT scientists. About 10 policy makers from China were invited to a V.I.P. event on “Science to Policy” in the late afternoon-evening of 25 July 2009 in Dongguan city to exchange with early-career scientists who were selected among the 150 participating students on the basis of their leadership potential, innovation and creativity. Click here to download full programme, workshop report and lectures .

ACCENT Training Workshop in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
The Training Workshop on “Changing Paradigms in Atmospheric and Marine Chemistry”, held from 7-11 August 2009 in southern Taiwan, at the National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung, was affected by Typhoon Morakot, which devastated southern Taiwan in the region of Kaohsiung over the weekend of the ACCENT event. Fortunately, Peter Brimblecombe (University of East Anglia, Norwich, U.K.) had moved the Friday presentations forward to Thursday, 6 August, and Eva Schuepbach (University of Berne, Switzerland) managed to get to Kaohsiung from Hong Kong late on Sunday, 9 August, despite many cancelled flights.

Click here to download the Workshop programme, a summary on experiences and outcomes of the Workshop, and the lectures.

ACCENT FAR EAST – Simply Amazing
Videos

Videos on the Summer School on Biodiversity and on the ACCENT Workshop in Guangzhou have been produced by students from Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China. Click here to view video on Welcome, Workshop and Farewell.

Pictures
Click here to visit the Picture Gallery of the ACCENT FAR EAST Summer Programme 2009.

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