BVH Global Scholars connect with National Geographic Explorer for video lesson

The Global Scholars of Bonita Vista High (BVH) have recently participated in the 2019 National Geographic California Eco Blitz, which lasted from September 30 to October 25. This is the second year that this program has existed, in which students practice the attitude and skills of being an explorer and a citizen scientist. As a benefit of the program, students connected with a National Geographic Explorer; for BVH this year, the explorer was Ross Davison. Davison is a specialist of cultural preservation and has worked at over 70 cultural heritage sites around the world.

“I was really excited for my students to be involved in this because it relates to one of the big themes of geography, which is human-environment interaction. This is an exciting program because I think it begins the conversation [surrounding] the education and awareness around our environment, and it’s a step in the direction of convincing people that we need to do things differently,” ninth grade geography teacher Kelly León said.

The Global Scholars program is sponsored by the California Global Education project. It is a partnership between English, Environmental Biology, and ninth grade Geography to align goals and help students develop knowledge of the world. 

“We came up with the idea of Global Scholars because a lot of freshmen struggle a bit with the transition to high school,” English 9 teacher Gina Vattuone said. “It gives us a chance to be more of a cohesive community. We’re aware of what’s going on in the other classrooms and addressing it in three different classes rather than just everyone being their own island.”

In an effort to do community-based monitoring, the students of the program participate in two activities. They first conduct what is called a “BioBlitz,” where they use an app called I-Naturalist to collect and analyze data on flora and fauna to identify the biodiversity on the BVH campus. 

“They were actually doing the kind of field work that real geographers do. So, when we give our students these real life experiences, they’re learning becomes a little more relevant, real, interesting and engaging,” Vattuone said.

According to Environmental Biology 9 teacher Adrienne Marriott, the second part of the program is a “TrashBlitz” in which students collect samples of trash on campus and compare it to the quantity of living organisms in the same location. Then, Davison helps students analyze their data and come to conclusions on it.

“I think one of the goals of this program, but also of Global Scholars, more generally, is to help students envision a different type of future and [realize] that we’re going to have to live differently if we care about the planet. I think programs like this are a good first step in building that knowledge and awareness that gets students to envision these alternative futures,” León said. 

Recently, the Global Scholar students of BVH had a Skype conversation to be introduced to Davison and gain a greater understanding of his work as a National Geographic explorer and researcher. Davison originally studied archaeology at the University of California in Santa Cruz and is now a specialist in imaging technology, 3D scanning, and historic and cultural preservation.

“It’s different to read about something versus to go actually see someone who’s doing that kind of work. Students could see other possibilities for themselves in their lives seeing that there’s a real human out there writing and researching and doing these things like Ross Davison,” Vattuone said.

The students spoke to Davison for about 30 minutes. In the first half of their interaction, he gave background information on his research. He also explained how he implements technology into his research. After this, he gave students time to ask questions on his real-life experiences. The group plans to call Davison one more time at the end of the EcoBlitz Program.

“It was really cool for the students to get to hear from somebody about all these different kinds of jobs and aspects that tie into environmental science. Anytime you get to hear from someone who’s not your everyday teacher – that really helps to make things real. So having a chance to hear about somebody’s journey is really powerful,” Marriott said.