Global Awareness Investigation and Action (GAIA)
Students enrolled in GAIA work collaboratively under mentors to identify a specific question about a topic of interest or concern in their community. Through scientific research, community engagement, and sharing collected data, they work towards developing and implementing a sustainable solution.
The GAIA Project is an international environmental research project created to raise student awareness about global environmental concerns and take an active community-based role working towards a resolution.
Middle and high school students enrolled in GAIA from different schools and socio-economic backgrounds work collaboratively under mentors to identify a specific question about a topic of interest or concern in their local community. Through scientific research, community engagement, and sharing collected data with their local and international network, they work towards developing and implementing a sustainable solution.
GAIA projects have three stages: awareness, investigation, and action.
GAIA raises student awareness through field trips to local nature reserves, wildlife habitats, and natural ecosystems. Field experiences build student appreciation for the natural world. As students become more familiar with their local environment—and the local resources available to them—they begin to ask questions and select one essential question to investigate further.
GAIA increases student investigation of local and global environmental issues. After students develop essential questions, they learn to use equipment and instruments to monitor relevant data. As data is collected, analyzed, and interpreted it is communicated locally to their school community. Once reviewed it is shared globally online. GAIA experts provide students feedback and constructive criticism on their essential questions, monitoring techniques, data collection, analysis and interpretation. As students interact with local experts and GAIA scientists, they begin to construct action plans.
GAIA organizes inter-school research activities to give students the opportunity to work and learn with each other. GAIA also arranges an annual gala providing a venue for students from enrolled schools to present their research.
As GAIA grows, global research groups will meet for GAIA Action Forum where groups share and present their research findings, discuss new models and protocols, and prepare for the next year’s continuation of research. Action plans will identify potential solution(s) to local and global concerns and propose a time line for action. The GAIA project will adopt and endorse action plans that are considered most realistic, feasible, and practical. This truly involves GAIA students as scientific researchers and policy developers.
GAIA founders and mentors believe that if our students are to change the world, they must be aware of the natural world as well as about the people in it, and be involved in local environmental studies. Then, they must act. Think globally. Act locally. In so doing, preparing students for global citizenship in an increasingly complex world.
GAIA projects provide multiple avenues of opportunity for students to learn through its partnerships with universities, environmental agencies, technology/engineering companies, municipalities, and diplomatic connections. Research projects develop step-by-step problem-solving and reasoning skills and cultivate curiosity and exploration for answers. Interpersonal and intercultural skills are developed as students collaborate in their communities and across the globe. As instruction shifts from teacher-directed, teacher-assigned schoolwork to student-initiated, goal-driven, independent, intentional learning with an emphasis on knowledge building, students become life-learners and thinkers. Skills developed lay a framework for students to study a number of fields.