El Paso teen scientist willvisit CroatiaCorrie MacLaggan
El Paso Times
Mark Lambie / El Paso Times Tyler Kraften, 14, shows how he tested water in the Rio Grande for the past two years. His research has won him a trip to the GLOBE Learning Expedition's international science conference in Sibenik, Croatia.
Link to the GLOBE program
Fourteen-year-old Tyler Kraften had never heard of Croatia before this year.
But the Northeast El Pasoan will learn about the country firsthand when hetravels there this month to present his original research on the chemistry ofthe Rio Grande at an international science conference.
"It's overwhelming," said Kraften, who will enter ninth grade atChapin High School this fall. "I don't know much about Croatia. I heardsomeone speaking Croatian once, and I didn't understand anything theysaid."
Tyler is one of 39 American students -- and the only Texan -- participatingin the 2003 GLOBE Learning Expedition in Sibenik, Croatia, part of the formerYugoslavia. Students and teachers from 23 countries will share research abouttopics such as rainfall patterns in Cameroon, water quality deterioration inArgentina and climate change in Norway.
During the past two years, Kraften has taken monthly samples from nine partsof the Rio Grande from Sunland Park to Las Cruces. He measured turbidity(clearness), temperature, dissolved oxygen, total dissolved solids, nitrates, pHand alkalinity (ability to neutralize acid) to find seasonal changes in theriver's chemistry.
Like other GLOBE (Global Learning Observations to Benefit the Environment)students around the world, Tyler reported his data via the Internet for use byscientists. More than a million students in 103 countries have participated inGLOBE, and there are more than 100 GLOBE schools in El Paso County.
Tyler worked with Canyon Hills Middle School teacher Eloy Salamanca andUniversity of Texas at El Paso GLOBE coordinator Robin Hoffer. Hoffer saidTyler's research will teach him to become a responsible voter because heunderstands the science behind water policy issues.
"It makes a little scientist out of him," Hoffer said. "He'sour poster boy."
For Tyler's mother, Kathy Kraften, who trains science teachers in the El PasoIndependent School District about GLOBE and other programs, the strength ofGLOBE is its non-advocacy approach.
"It lets kids explore and ask their own questions," said KathyKraften, who will accompany her son to Croatia.
The pair will leave early Friday morning. Two days later -- after layovers inDenver; Frankfurt, Germany; and Prague, Czech Republic, and a drive from theairport in Split, Croatia -- the Kraftens will arrive in Sibenik for the six-dayconference. Tyler will give a talk and present a poster about his study at theevent, which will conclude July 4.
"I don't really have any doubts in myself," said Tyler Kraften, wholikes to play video games when he's not doing research. "I think I'm goingto do good."
Kathy Kraften said her only concern is finding meals in Croatia that her sonwill eat.
"We're worried about food," she said. "He likes pizza."
Corrie MacLaggan may be reached at email@example.com