Forest Watch, Complex Systems Research Center, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, Univ. of New Hampshire
Data Center Description
Forest Watch has been an innovative and highly successful education outreach program for the study of white pine health in New England. Researchers at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) initiated this program to involve primary and secondary students in the collection and processing of data relating to air pollution damage in forest stands. Students participate in three types of authentic science activities in Forest Watch: forest stand assessment, laboratory-based assessment of damage symptoms, and image processing/data analysis of Thematic Mapper data for the area around their school.
Participating schools select a permanent sampling plot in a pine stand and conduct several ecological and biophysical measurements using specific scientific protocols developed at UNH. Results to date show that students can collect valuable data from a scientific standpoint and that the program is educationally beneficial--students learn science and mathematics by doing research in their local area.
Forest Watch currently includes more than 160 schools and study plots across New England, allowing UNH to conduct a regional analysis of white pine health. Student data are compared to spectral data collected from samples sent to UNH, and the student and spectral data are compared to tropospheric ozone data collected from state and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air quality monitoring sites throughout New England.