The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program is an international network of schools in 71 countries that monitors up to 20 environmental parameters. Recently GLOBE added a haze-monitoring program to its measurement protocols. This network has the potential of providing important data about changes in the aerosol optical depth of the atmosphere caused by weather fronts, industrial and automobile pollution, and smoke from forest and brush fires and volcanic eruptions. Initially, monitoring will be conducted with an inexpensive, single-channel (520 nm) sun photometer. Unlike conventional sun photometers that use interference filters that are subject to unpredictable and rapid degradation, the GLOBE instrument uses a common light-emitting diode (LED) as a spectrally selective detector. Annual calibrations of two LED sun photometers at Mauna Loa Observatory since 1992 show that these instruments have insignificant degradation when compared to filter sun photometers. Some 175 prototype versions of a kit LED sun photometer have been assembled and tested by students from 16 countries at the University of the Nations and by more than 130 high school teachers in various pilot studies. These studies have demonstrated that even inexperienced students and teachers can quickly assemble a sun photometer from a kit of parts and perform a reliable Langley calibration. The pilot studies have also demonstrated that sun photometery provides a convenient means for allowing students to perform hands-on science while they learn about various topics in history, electronics, algebra, statistics, graphing, and meteorology.

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