Robin Cochran Dirksen

School or Organization Name: Lead Deadwood School District, and BOSCO Uganda

Co-Presenter Name(s): Sam Shaw (Science Specialist for the State of South Dakota DOE OCCTE), Thomas Loughran (BOSCO BOD, Notre Dame Univiersity, I2U2).

 Area of the World from Which You Will Present:   Deadwood and Pierre, South Dakota & Michigan, U.S.

 Language in Which You Will Present: English

 Target Audience(s): Secondary Educators, Curriculum Developers, Educational Policymakers

Short Session Description (one line): Showcase of Globally Relevant Collaborative Science Projects, and How You Can Participate 


Presenters will share the challenges and successes of water quality and ethnobotanical collaborative projects, now in the third year of development and implementation between BOSCO, Uganda and a South Dakota, US school district. These projects dovetail excellently with the new Framework for K-12 Science Education Standards and serve as an example of the innovation and practical application of the Framework.


Our towns of Lead and Deadwood are the home of the Homestake Mine, which is the deepest hole in the Western hemisphere.  Whitewood Creek was one of the most toxic watersheds in the U.S. For 100 years from 1877 to 1977, Homestake discharged at least 100 million tons of gold-mill tailings and hazardous substances. Approximately 2,700 tons of contaminated sediments from Homestake were deposited daily into Whitewood Creek from about 1900 to 1978. From 1920 to 1977, about 270,000 tons of arsenic was discharged into Whitewood Creek.  What started as a Class B Waterway, suitable for transporting human waste, is a redemption story, albeit ongoing.


The villages served by BOSCO in the Gulu region of Northern Uganda, is also an ongoing redemption story.  In the former IDP Camps, BOSCO Uganda is re-training, educating and providing health care to the people, many of whom are orphans and survivors of the Civil War.  51 percent of Uganda’s population are below age 14 and just 2 percent of the population are 65 or older.  And both are isolated communities; one a small district in the ethnically homogenous state of South Dakota, and the other population are residents in an overlooked part of the world with great needs.


We are building vertical stream and watershed projects with second graders and are beginning to develop lessons for each grade relevant to the health and environmental history of our towns’ watershed.  This vertical approach is a mechanism to not only develop deep environmental education literacy, but also creates a sense of stewardship and ownership for local watersheds.  State of SD Science Specialist, Sam Shaw, curriculum representative from the South Dakota Department of Education will be on hand to share insight on our program from the perspective of the DOE, and will talk about how to develop Problem Based Learning projects in your region. Tom Loughran, a member of the Board of Directors of BOSCO, will also share the genesis of the project from the perspective of BOSCO.


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Our presentation won't focus on technology.  But for those interested, we use (at least) the following: information gathered using GPS and digital cameras is added to a wiki (we use Wikispaces), wherein also sits a Google Form, moving data (including a link to the wiki page for each mapped item) to a Google spreadsheet, where additional columns transform data from uploaded to mappable format.  Map-a-list is then used to transform the data from spreadsheet to a Google map, which is in turn embedded back in the wiki.  The result is an intelligent map that students create themselves, entering and reviewing data only in the wiki. All online technologies are (or could be) free services.


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