Fulbright-Hays Program Provides Teachers Summer Courses in Ghana, March 22, 1999

SOCORRO, N.M., March 22, 1999 -- As part of its curriculum, New Mexico Tech's Master of Science Teaching (MST) program has always offered state educators summer field courses that incorporate trips to "exotic" locales such as the Grand Canyon, the Bisti Badlands, or the rapids of the Colorado River.

But now, with recent funding provided by a prestigious U.S. Department of Education program, Tech's MST program is vastly expanding its boundaries this summer to faraway West Africa.

Because of a special monetary award acquired from the Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program, teachers enrolled in two of the 11 classes offered this summer through the MST program will be conducting environmental science field and lab work in Ghana. The western African country is a republic which, up until it achieved its independence in 1957, was formerly a British colony known as "the Gold Coast."

"This is an exciting opportunity for MST participants to include an international component in their graduate studies," says Vannetta R. Perry, New Mexico Tech's coordinator for educational outreach programs.

"New Mexico Tech was very fortunate to get Fulbright-Hays funding for this particular project, since out of about 300 proposals which are submitted annually, only 35 to 40 projects are actually funded each year throughout the nation," she adds.

In one of the classes, MST program participants taking the month-long "Ghanaian Environmental Science Seminar and Cross-Cultural Studies" will be conducting surveys and analyses of Ghanaian groundwater, looking for the presence of hazardous amounts of arsenic. Part of the field work will consist of water samples being taken from several small African villages by teams of three to four students accompanied by Tech professors or their teaching assistants.

In the program's other Ghanaian class, educators will focus on constructing and testing a pilot-scale, low-technology treatment system for removing arsenic from groundwater. A local raw material, laterite, which is found throughout Ghana, will be comparison tested in the study, along with a commercial treatment material, for possible use as an adsorbent for arsenic removal.

By also completing two additional directed studies associated with the Ghanaian classes, participants can earn up to six graduate credit hours through New Mexico Tech's MST degree- granting program.

"As educators, it is important for us to open the world to our students and the Ghanaian Environmental Science Seminar also will provide that opportunity," adds Perry. "We all will learn far beyond the geochemistry and environmental engineering aspects of the course components. The cultural awareness and experiences will be invaluable, and bringing that knowledge back to New Mexico will enrich the teaching and learning of our state's K-12 students."

Perry also point out that results derived from the Ghanaian study may potentially have "significant applications" to arsenic-contaminated water-supply problems in other countries.

Applicants who are chosen to participate in the Ghanaian Environmental Science Seminar and Cross-Cultural Studies summer courses will be provided with air travel to and from Ghana, plus per diem expenses, as part of the funding contributed by the Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program. However, participants will be responsible for paying all other expenses associated with the program, including registration and fees for the MST classes.

Applications for the Ghanaian program must be completed, submitted, and postmarked no later than Wednesday, March 25.

Those interested in applying for the program, or those who wish to receive more information about these or other MST courses being offered this summer, are asked to contact Perry as soon as possible at (505) 835-5678, or by e-mail at science@nmt.edu.