The Bonanza Creek Schoolyard LTER is a subsidiary program within the Bonanza Creek (BNZ)/Caribou-Poker Creek Long Term Ecological Research program. The overall goal is to provide an interface between BNZ LTER assets (scientists, data, ongoing research, sites, and products) and teachers from throughout Alaska. The Bonanza Creek Schoolyard LTER Program is part of a national network of sites that support K-12 teachers and students in hands-on ecological research. This work is supported by the Long-Term Ecological Research Program of the National Science Foundation, with additional support from the NASA Science Activation Program. The goals of the BNZ Schoolyard LTER are threefold:
- Provide unique learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom for Fairbanks North Star Borough School District (FNSBSD) students.
- Provide training and support for FNSBSD science teachers at all grade levels.
- Collect datasets useful to the BNZ LTER that might be otherwise impossible to get.
Bonanza Creek LTER uses Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) to achieve these goals. GLOBE is a worldwide environmental science and learning program that brings together students, teachers, scientists and community members through a hands-on approach. GLOBE was initiated in 1995, and BNZ LTER was one of the earliest adopters of the program, which now spans more than 120 countries and all regions of the US. Youth and educators engage in local investigations that cover five core investigation areas that align with BNZ research: atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, soil (pedosphere), and Earth as a system. In 2016, GLOBE added a global app, GLOBE Observer, to expand data collection to anyone with a smartphone on some of the most urgent global climate and health issues.
The standardized data collected by youth is archived in a teacher- and student-friendly open access database and visualization system useful for investigations by scientists and youth.
The BNZ Schoolyard LTER program provides support for K12 educators and youth through:
- Annual professional development workshops which focus on culturally responsive and relevant approaches to inquiry-based science. They also offer training as requested by school districts and professional organizations.
- In-person or virtual classroom visits by BNZ scientists
- Youth camps and field days
- Tailored resources for place-based ecological investigations