Two lucky Aldine individuals are getting the chance of a lifetime this summer. They will head to the Churchill Northern Studies Centre in Manitoba, Canada.
The student is Diego Garza from Victory Early College High School. Also traveling with him is Chirmekia Washington. She is a life science teacher at Plummer Middle School. Both are looking forward to the expedition and a chance to work with scientists.
The unique scientific expedition is made possible through JASON Learning. The science education organization chose a select group of JASON Argonauts from around the world. They will join one of several weeklong expeditions and take part in hands-on research. The Argos will work with resident and visiting scientists in diverse projects.
The 2017 JASON Argonaut expeditions include a group joining the expedition to Peru to work alongside scientists and engineers; they will study the Amazon rain forest canopy and insects. Another group will form part of the expedition to the Bahamas to study marine life.
“Our Argonaut program connects students and educators with real scientists to teach and inspire a love of exploration and inquiry,” said Dr. Eleanor Smalley, chief operating officer of JASON. “It promotes self–confidence and develops leaderships skills.”
Chevron sponsors the JASON Learning program at more than 10 Houston-area school districts. Funding provided by Chevron assures that all travel is covered for Houston-area Argos. This includes lodging, food, programming and equipment costs.
Twenty-two of the 2017 Argonaut team spots were reserved for students and educators from the Houston region. This included one student and teacher from AISD. District representatives had to apply in January, with applications due in February.
Xandra Williams-Earlie, program director of secondary science, visited both schools on April 21. She along with campus leaders organized the surprise announcements.
Since 1990, JASON’s National Argonaut Program has provided hands-on, scientific fieldwork to more than 500 students and educators worldwide. Many Argo students have gone on to pursue degrees in STEM careers. The acronym stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Argos will measure evidence of global warming near Churchill. The small town on Hudson Bay is on the front line of climate change. They will help researchers as they learn all they can about this fragile environment. Argos may take water samples and assess the abundance of the fish and frogs that make these northern wetlands their home. They’ll also help monitor the health of the tree line by examining tree cores, which allow researchers to reconstruct tree life histories.
Students work alongside experienced scientists at the cutting edge of conservation research. They will gain first-hand knowledge of some of today’s pressing environmental challenges. And they will try to find real and achievable solutions.
When students join scientists in the field, they engage with the environment in an active way. They gain a different perspective they can’t visualize by watching a report, reading a book or hearing a lecture.
Diego and Chirmekia will stay at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre. Their expedition will run between June 27 through July 5. The thaw season (summer) can be cold and wet. While the Argos’ days will be busy working and learning, they will also have some time time to enjoy the local attractions. The wildlife has a wide range of species. The Churchill region is known as polar bear country. It has a large concentration of polar bears.
As a JASON Student Argo, Diego shows a strong interest in STEM. The sophomore student looks forward to applying his skills in a professional setting.
“There is no doubt in my mind that this will be an exciting adventure that JASON Learning and Chevron are giving me. And for that, I am grateful.”
Meanwhile, Chirmekia can’t wait to share her excitement and adventure with her students.
“Inside I am doing flips!” exclaimed Chirmekia. “It won’t just be my adventure, but my students’ adventure too. During the expedition, I will get to share via social media with my students. And I will have stories and information to share with students and colleagues when I return from Canada.
“More importantly, I will be able to give them a perspective based on my personal experience. I am passionate about science and I want to cultivate a sense of wonder, awe and connection to the Earth. I hope that as a JASON Teacher Argo that I will be inspire my students to pursue STEM fields.”
One day, we may see one of her students apply to be a JASON Student Argonaut.
As for Diego, the experience will likely cement his passion for STEM.
Director of Written Communication & Spanish Media
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