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Ecology, Environment and Education: Teaching and Learning in
National and International
Professional Development Experiences

Harriett S. Stubbs, Christiane de Gioppo, Arlita McNamee

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Three of the Brazilian faculty members who came to the U.S. and participated in the programs in North Carolina, have been involved in the ongoing education of these four students. Stubbs states,

I meet these same faculty members at the Federal University of Parana and the four former students, now Master's graduates, annually when I am in Brazil, with intermittent email communication during the remainder of the year. One of the students seeks to work on his Ph.D., to improve his GIS and English speaking skills, and then to study bats here in the U.S.

It has been fascinating to follow each of these students as they progress in their fields, and to note how the Brazilian faculty members have been involved with the individual student's education and their continuing work over a number of years. We have all become good friends, evolving into a much closer relationship than any of us could ever have anticipated!

Brazil: Adventures in Ecology and Education

How do we teach our students to think globally? How can we teach and learn from one another? Do these ideas transfer to our students? It is vitally important that we as educators teach and learn from those in other countries, so that we can share, cooperate, and collaboratively establish teaching and learning opportunities for the benefit of our students. In just a few short years, the world of our students will change from the world we once knew (Friedman, T. L. 2005).

We are now in our 5th year of the Brazil Adventures. We have spent one year of the program traveling in the Amazon and three years in the Pantanal. Participants include educators, scientists, business persons, university faculty, college students, and graduate students from other countries and from many states. It is essential we all participate in the developing global network, maximizing our own knowledge so we can communicate with our students, the future work force in this emerging global society.

Why International?

It is relatively easy to sign up for a travel tour to any country. However, our project is unique in its educational foci on the culture, education, and ecology of another country. We believe international experiences are essential to include in the professional development plans of educators. Today, many private and public colleges and universities insist their students have at least one international experience before graduation. And many high school students are now traveling – for service projects, church related programs, or academic programs. How are we as educators preparing our students for such experiences? Do we ourselves know anything about other countries? (Stubbs, 2008).

This program, an outgrowth from earlier work, is described in short overview format below. More detailed information can be obtained from the article (Stubbs, 2008). Please see a detailed schedule of the Brazil: Adventures in Ecology and Education, Appendix C.


We have found it is important that evaluations be turned in daily (for the 15 days) to the Project Director. A half-page form with just four questions is easily and quickly answered, and scanned by the Project Director and staff. It is then possible, for example, to provide more comfort for the participants such as changing the seating on the bus, providing more stops along the way, or having bottled water available on the bus. We can also change schedules should participants need more rest time. With so many distinct personalities in close contact every day, sometimes there needs to be individual time-out. And so on. Presently, we are developing an on-line evaluation form to be returned daily to the home office for tabulation. This will save major time commitments of staff in 2009.

Lap-tops for Participants

During the 15-day adventure, there are group questions and answers. Frequently one question will be an evaluative one, to ascertain where the group is in the development of a specific topic. Additionally, the final evaluation of open-ended questions will be administered via computer. We hope to have this available for 2009 experiences with a computer for each person. Let's see!

The final project of each participant must involve technology. These projects will be placed on the website and shared with others. From previous experience, there are innovative ways to share with and between international teachers and students – but this has taken much longer than anticipated for these to reach actual implementation. In 2009, we will explore other programs, discerning what barriers are present, and compare possible strategies to reach positive outcomes.


We have just returned from the 2009 Grandfather Mountain International Workshop with eleven participants including those in community college, universities, middle school, high school, extension and interested others from Ohio, North Carolina and Brazil. Compared with our first workshop so many years ago in the same locale, we note: wireless is now available throughout the college – in the dorms and the offices. We spent little time in the computer room except to print, download large files or as a total group, to learn new programs. Participants started and contributed to a Wiki, learned how to use concept maps via computer, and began to think about the expanded use of technologies within this workshop and at our home sites. Participants brought their own laptops and worked in their rooms, writing applications for what they had learned, to be used in their home environ. Individual cell phones usually worked with little problem – what a difference when formerly we had to find a pay phone to call home. Many necessary ‘steps' needed early on, have been collapsed or deleted! What changes from almost 20 years ago!


These one-day, one-week, two-week experiences have served as a pilot study to delineate techniques, strategies, and methodologies to be used in the future, as this type of professional development reaches larger and larger audiences. We have learned that people enjoy working together to learn and share ideas; they are eager to collaborate across state and international boundaries and they want to interact with others. These workshops have fostered an enthusiastic ‘esprit de corps.” We know what works; we know what does not work. This framework can be exported to the study of other countries' education, environment, and culture. We believe this approach to be important in the evolving saga of professional development, always remembering that it takes time and patience to develop such ongoing programs. Outcomes may not be known for some months, or even years. Technology continues to change, presenting challenges as well as solutions.

“A successful program takes input from many, an uncanny split-second sense of timing, flexibility, not staying with the schedule as written but going with the flow during the experience, extraordinary energy, serendipity, and sometimes luck!”


We wish to thank: Ben Sangari, President Instituto Sangari, for his support and commitment to this project; Bianca Rinzler, Ingrid Imenez, Sangari organizer and educator Arlita McNamee, Mariana Reis, and the Staff of Instituto Sangari.

We wish to thank: John Penick, Department of Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education, NCSU; Sharlene Simon, NCSU, Alex Davis and Dee Davis, SCI-LINK staff for their help and encouragement.

We wish to thank: Christiane Gioppo, Setuko Masunari, Donizeti Giusti - Faculty, Federal University of Parana, Brazil , and former students Ricardo Vieira de Silva, Daniel Luis Lepka, Ives Arnoni, Bruno de Andrade Matuella and Aline Luise Bail .

And we are indebted to all the participants of this unique type of international professional development experiences for educators.


Anderson, N. D. (1993). SCI-LINK: A project linking research scientists and science teachers. Journal of Science Teacher Education. 4 (2), 44-50.

Anderson, N. D. (1993). Scientists: Tips for Making Presentations to Teachers. SCI-LINK/ GLOBE-NET. North Carolina State University.

Anderson, N. D. (1994). Tips for Writing on the Computer. SCI-LINK/ GLOBE-NET. North Carolina State University.

Bray, N. (1998). SCI-Link/Globe-Net. Science Scope, 21 (6), 52-53.

Cunningham, William P. Cunningham, M.A. & Saigo, B. W. (2007). Environmental science: A global concern. (9th ed.) New York, N. Y.: McGraw Hill.

Friedman, T. L. (2005). The world is flat: A brief history of the twenty-first century . New York, N.Y.: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

Gioppo, Christiane (2004). Designing and testing modules on non-formal education for teacher education candidates: a Brazilian experience. Raleigh, NC: NCSU. Doctoral dissertation under the supervision of Dr. John Penick and Dr. Glenda Carter.

Gioppo, Christiane and Barra, Vilma. (2005). Assessment in Primary School Science Classes. (A Avaliação em Ciências nas séries iniciais). Curitiba, PR: UFPR Press.

Gioppo, Christiane; Da Silva, Ricardo and Barra, Vilma (2006). Assessment in Middle School Science Classes (A Avaliação em Ciências no Ensino Fundamental). Curitiba, PR: UFPR Press.

Howe, A. C., & Stubbs, H.S. (1998). "Empowering science teachers: A model for professional development." Journal of Science Teacher Education 8 (3), 167-182.

Howe, A. C., & Stubbs, H.S. (2003). "From science teacher to teacher leader: Leadership development as meaning making in a community of practice." Science Education 87. 281-297. Or Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Progress Report to the National Science Foundation (1996). SCI-LINK/ GLOBE-NET. College of Education, North Carolina State University, Raleigh N.C.

Stubbs, H . S. (with Fowler, K., Ball, J., Whitaker, D., & Hawley, B.). (2003). Educational Environmental Projects, Using Technology Applications, for Middle School Students in Formal and Non-Formal Settings. Meridian Middle School Computer Technologies Journal, 6 (2).

Stubbs, H. S., (2008). Using Technology to Develop Global Teachers: An Innovative Model. Meridian Middle School Computer Technologies Journal, 2 (11).

Stubbs, H. S., Devine, H., & Hagevik, R. (2002). Thinking Spatially: GIS Curricula K-16 and Professional Development for Educators . In Proceedings of an IOSTE Conference 2002. International Organization of Science Technology Educators, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. July. 280-286.

Stubbs, H. S. & Anderson , N.D. (1995). GLOBE-NET: A partnership of research scientists and teachers for the development of instructional materials on global change . In Proceedings of an IOSTE Conference 1994. International Organization of Science and Technology Educators, Enschede, The Netherlands: National Institute for Curriculum Development (SLO). 817-832.

White, C., (2004). The middle mind; Why Americans don't think for themselves . San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins Publishers.



Websites specifically referred to in this article are:


Instituto Sangari

Federal University of Parana

SCI-LINK, a project supported by the National Science Foundation and many others from 1991-1996, continues today – connecting/ linking research scientists and experts with teachers and students to bring cutting-edge environmental science quickly and directly to the classroom.

It is hoped that this paper provides incentives for educators to ‘think out of the box', dare to be innovative in approaches, try new and different techniques and strategies, learn new information directly from the sources regardless of viewpoints, and to plan long-term programs and projects for optimal outcomes.



Harriett S. Stubbs, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor Emeritus, member of the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education since 1988, and located in the Office of Professional Development at North Carolina State University. She is Director of the SCI-LINK/ GLOBE-NET Projects, author of books and articles, presenter of methodologies and strategies for professional development of educators and environmental topics of interest for teaching and learning. Stubbs has developed and coordinated professional development experiences for educators for more than 25 years in the U.S. and for more than five years in Brazil.
Christiane de Gioppo, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor, Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil, since 1992. She is a Practicum Internship Supervisor for the Biology Education program. Gioppo also is a director of the Primary school teacher in-service program at the Office of In-service Teacher Education of UFPR. This professional development program works with many teachers from cities around Curitiba. Previously she worked for more than ten years as: a middle school science teacher, a non-formal educator at the Curitiba Science Park and also as an in-service teacher education program at the State Education Board. Gioppo is a regional representative for the southern States at the Brazilian Association for Biology Education. She also worked as a National Ministry of Education consultant for the The National Textbook Evaluation Program; National Science Education Evaluation program and for the Biology College Evaluation Program.
Arlita McNamee is research coordinator at Instituto Sangari, in São Paulo, Brazil, and organizer of the SCI-LINK Brazil: Adventures in Ecology & Education program. She has a Masters degree in Environmental Studies from York University in Toronto.



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Meridian: A Middle School Computer Technologies Journal
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Volume 12, Issue 2, 2009
ISSN 1097-9778
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