Observer People

Jeff Bouwman giving thumbs up for citizen science.

Jeff Bouwman

Citizen Scientist -- Science Teacher
"It is my job to provide real-world learning opportunities and to encourage my students to take a closer look at our planet. I believe we need more informed citizen scientists in this world. My personal mission statement is simple, #GettingScienceDone!"

Where are you from?

I am originally from Allendale, Mich.  I lived in West Michigan for 22 years, and attended Allendale High School and Grand Valley State University.  I now live in Grosse Ile, Michigan.

What do you do?

Jeff working with studentsI am a sixth and seventh grade science teacher and a robotics coach for Shumate Robotics at Shumate Middle School (Gibraltar School District) in Gibraltar, Michigan. The 2017 - 2018 school year marks my third year teaching at Shumate.  My sixth and seventh grade students take environmental measurements for The GLOBE Program and CoCoRaHS. The sixth grade class is responsible for measuring soil, surface, current air temperatures, soil moisture (for NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite campaign), precipitation, and clouds.  Seventh grade is responsible for measuring precipitation and taking various integrated hydrology (water temperature, pH, nitrate, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and conductivity) measurements. Shumate Middle School students are also helping The GLOBE Program and NASA test new environmental measurement protocols and technology.  First, Shumate is a proud partner of the AEROKATS and ROVER Education Network (AREN) Project.

Collaborating with The GLOBE Program and Wayne RESA, our students are taking environmental measurements remotely via kites, high definition cameras, and weather stations.  We will soon begin taking hydrology measurements remotely with remote controlled boats. Secondly, Shumate is also proud to be taking tree height (biometry) measurements to help The GLOBE Program beta test a new environmental ground truthing measurement protocol for the ICESat-2 satellite that is scheduled to be launched in 2018.

Jeff holding soil with his studentsOne of my favorite citizen science contributions happened in 2016 when I was awarded a Youth Learning As Citizen Environmental Scientists (YLACES) Invited Grant to purchase the first WeatherSTEM weather station in the state of Michigan.  In September 2016, the Gibraltar School District WeatherSTEM weather station went live. Our weather station provides the Gibraltar School District learning community with hyperlocal real time weather data (current temperature, wind speed, rain rate, soil moisture, etc.).  Weather information is readily available via social media (Gibraltar School District WeatherSTEM Facebook and Gibraltar Schools Wx Twitter) pages and a mobile app, and a cloud camera captures sky images to create a daily time lapse cloud video showcasing the sky and cloud conditions over Marauder Stadium from the day before. The system also provides our students with weather learning modules, data mining, and coding applications. Our weather station sends atmospheric data to The GLOBE Program daily, and I believe it helps keep our community informed and safe.

I am also a Science Education and Educational Technology Adjunct Professor at the University of Michigan -- Dearborn’s College of Education, Health, and Human Services (CEHHS).  After earning two Graduate Degrees from the University of Michigan – Dearborn, I joined the College of Education, Health, and Human Services (CEHHS) in January 2011.  I truly enjoy sharing my passion for science, technology, and teaching with future teachers.

To view my work, check out Shumate Science on Facebook and/or look up #GettingScienceDone!

How do you use GLOBE Observer?  

My students utilize my iPad and the GLOBE Observer app during the school day to take cloud measurements at Shumate Middle School.  I have an assigned cloud scientist per hour, and the cloud scientist will bring another student outside to take a cloud measurement.  The data is submitted to The GLOBE Program once the team returns to the classroom.

I am a Citizen Scientist.  When I am not at Shumate, I take daily precipitation measurements for The GLOBE Program and CoCoRaHS in my backyard. I test new technology and best practices for the AREN Project and the ICESat-2 satellite campaign.  Additionally, I love taking cloud measurements using the GLOBE Observer app on my iPhone.  I like to stop, “put my head in the clouds,” and take cloud measurements.

How do you plan to use GLOBE Observer in the future?

Moving forward, I plan to continue having my students take cloud measurements hourly at Shumate.  My students are also excited to participate in the 2018 NASA GLOBE Clouds: Spring Cloud Observations Data Challenge.  Additionally, I hope to organize another Shumate GLOBE Observation Challenge for the summer months.  It’s my goal to get as many students as I can interested in clouds, citizen science, and technology by using the GLOBE Observer app while at home for summer vacation.

Why is citizen science important to you? 

It is my job to provide real-world learning opportunities and to encourage my students to take a closer look at our planet. I believe we need more informed citizen scientists in this world. My personal mission statement is simple, #GettingScienceDone. We are #GettingScienceDone at Shumate Middle School!

What advice do you have for people just getting into citizen science? 

Start small and become good at one environmental measurement protocol.  I first started taking SMAP soil moisture measurements for The GLOBE Program in 2015.  My students loved taking measurements for the SMAP satellite! Once we became proficient at taking soil moisture measurements, we started taking soil, surface, and current temperature measurements. The surface temperature protocol required us to start taking cloud measurements.  To better understand soil moisture, my students wanted to set up rain gauges around our campus. Long story short, you will incorporate more measurement protocols once you establish your measurement routines and feel comfortable submitting and discussing the data with your students.

What do you do for fun? 

I love to travel and camp with my family. In the summertime, I love to visit campgrounds on the beautiful beaches of Lake Michigan, and I love vacationing in Traverse City, Michigan.  I am also looking forward to using my stand-up paddle board once the weather gets a little bit warmer.

What inspires you? 

Jeff pointing to the sky during the 2017 eclipseI am inspired to create awesome learning opportunities for my students for a couple of reasons. First, I am fortunate to work with some amazing students and educators at both Shumate Middle School and the University of Michigan -- Dearborn.  I love working with people that are dedicated to making a difference.  Additionally, I am also inspired by Sturgeon for Tomorrow -- Black Lake Chapter, St. Clair -- Detroit River Sturgeon for Tomorrow, and the Michigan DNR.  In addition to taking environmental measurements, I have been blessed with the opportunity raise Chinook Salmon and a Lake Sturgeon in my classroom every year.  These projects allow my students to take on the role of marine biologists and view the importance of clean water and taking care of our natural resources in Michigan.  Not too many teachers have the privilege of raising a threatened species in their classroom!

Any favorite quote(s) that you would like to share?

“We learn science by doing science!” - Dr. Dixon Butler

"#GettingScienceDone!" - Me