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Partnership in Science Education

By Stephen Bartsch


  • Hands-on Activity
  • Authentic Assessment
  • Group/Cooperative Learning
  • Community outreach
  • Interdisciplinary


  • Life Science
  • Biology
  • Integrated Science
  • Environmental Studies
  • Special Education


This activity is designed to show an outline for an exchange of scientific and cultural information between high schools in different regions of the world. This activity was recently done between a high school in New Hampshire and a high school in Guam. Scientific Exchange included: Acid Rain, Air Quality, Photo Essays of the Regions, Plant and Animal Comparisons, and Earth Science Studies. The Exchange proved to be an exciting collaboration between both schools.


This project was conducted in the Fall of 1994 with 2 high schools 9000 miles apart - Conval High School in Peterborough, NH and George Washington High School in Mangilao, Guam. The students and teachers were able to exchange valuable science and cultural information using a number of different learning styles. One was the analytical science student analyzing pH samples. The second one was an artistic student creating a photo essay of their region of the world. Students exchanged their information via mail, but the possibility of computer e-mail would only improve the project.

Class time was limited to 6 to 8 class periods spaced throughout the 2 months the project took place. Each student was required to be involved in one of the assignments that make up the project. Class leaders were assigned to help the project groups meet deadlines.

The lesson/activity is to be used as the assignment handout for each partner class. The assignment ideas used for this project are only suggestions. Substitutions with other types of projects could be done easily. The partnership exchange proved to be an exciting and educational endeavor that was the highlight of the year for many of my biology students.


The Partnership for this initial assignment was done through the following non profit corporation:
Pacific Regional Educational Laboratory - PREL
828 Fort Street Mall - Suite 500
Honolulu, HI 96813

Interested teachers should write to PREL and inquire about FISHNET. The FISHNET directory will provide teachers with a list of teachers in the Pacific Islands who are willing to do some sort of science exchange.

Notes: Handouts for pH and Leaf Yeast Studies can be developed by teacher. Information on these types of experiments can be provided if needed.

The assignment:

Your class has been given the assignment of comparing two regions of the world. The first region is your own region of the world ( ). The second region is one approximately ( ) miles away ( ). How do you find out about this far away region of the world ? Fortunately, your class has been assigned a partner class in that region. Together , you will work hard to scientifically explore and compare these two places. Each class will prepare a major report that gives a complete comparison and description of the two regions. You are encouraged to incorporate some cultural and social comparisons of the two regions.

What is to be in this report ? The following items should be included in the comparison of the two regions:

  1. Leaf yeasts as bioindicators of air quality - this is an experiment that both classes will conduct simultaneously. It will give an indication of how good or bad the air quality may be. The experiment will require "hands on" data collection as well as interpretation of the data from both regions. Separate handout will be given.

  2. PH water testing - this will involve an experiment that both classes will do involving ph water testing to determine acidity. This will also involve "hands on" data collection as well as interpretation of the data from both regions. Separate handout will be given.

  3. Photo essay - this will involve photos/postcards from each region that demonstrate things such as the diversity of life in each region, adaptations of living organisms to each region, and important earth science information. Perhaps literature written about the area could be used to support this section (poems, essays). Students may wish to write a poem or essay on their region.

  4. Earth science summary - a researched explanation of how each region was formed and what it is like today.

  5. Native plants to each region - this will involve collecting plants native to each region , identifying them and possibly explaining any uses for them. Because you will probably not be able to send samples overseas; this portion could use photographs or drawings to support the work.

  6. Native animals to each region - this will involve researching and observing the different animals in each region. Drawings or photographs and descriptions should support the work.

  7. Social and cultural comparison - although this is a science report; it is important that we learn a little about the social and cultural differences and similarities of each region. This portion may include photos, school newspaper clippings, etc..

The report:

Each class will prepare a report (actually a book) that will have all of the assignments mentioned. Each class will simply send their sections to their partner class. The exceptions to this will be the leaf yeast study and the ph testing study - in this case copies of the data will be sent to each class so they can use it in their report. In order to try to keep consistencies within each region; we will attempt to follow the given format:
  1. Introduction to project (1 page) (h)

  2. Table of contents (1 page) (h)

  3. Photo essay (5 pages) (h)
    Photo essay (5 pages) (p)

  4. Leaf yeast study (5to10 pages) (h)

  5. Earth science summary (2to3 pages) (h)
    Earth science summary (2to3 pages) (p)

  6. PH testing study (5to1o pages) (h)

  7. Animal life (5 pages) (h)
    Animal life (5 pages) (p)

  8. Plant life (5 pages) (h)
    Plant life (5 pages) (p)

  9. Social/cultural (5 pages) (h)
    Social/cultural (5 pages) (p)

  10. Conclusion/final thoughts (1-2 pages) (h)

h = home class does this section - keeps one copy for their report and must send 1 copy to partner class.

p = partner class must submit section to home class

All page #s are approximate

All sections of each report must be submitted on 8 1/2 " x 11" white paper. All entries sections should be typed whenever possible. The use of computers to organize and analyze data is strongly encouraged.

When is it all due ? Data for leaf yeasts and ph testing should be sent to each school no later
than ( ). All other sections should be sent in their final form no later than ( ).

Suggestions for each class:

  • Work as a team
  • Assign class leaders
  • Correspond quickly if any clarifications or suggestions for partner class
  • Be involved in all sections to some extent.
  • Have fun but work hard !!
  • Teachers should keep all correspondence organized.

To all the students involved:

To my knowledge; this is the first time that high school students have attempted to exchange scientific data and information from this far away. I am extremely excited about this terrific opportunity !! I know that the first attempt at this may not be perfect, but i know the experience of this venture will prove rewarding for each school. This fall, we are all pioneers in science education. Accept the challenge.

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