936 The AMS Education Program: Past, Present, and Future Efforts in Raising Scientific Literacy

Wednesday, 9 January 2019
Hall 4 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Wendy Abshire, American Meteorological Society, Washington, D.C.; and E. W. Mills, B. A. Blair, and K. A. Nugnes

As the AMS nears its 100th anniversary, the AMS Education Program reflects on its ongoing progress in support of its mission to foster Earth science literacy nationwide through in-service K-12 teacher professional development and undergraduate college-level courses and training programs. The Education Program serves the entire AMS membership and strategic goals of the Society by bringing atmospheric, oceanic, climatic, and related sciences into places it may not be otherwise—for example, K–12 classrooms, community colleges, and minority-serving institutions (MSIs).

In 1989, the AMS Council pledged $300,000 toward “Educational Initiatives.” At the time, the initiatives were undefined, but soon evolved and created impact through the leadership of Ira Geer (AMS Education Program Director 1991 -- 2008) and Jim Brey (AMS Education Program Director 2008 -- 2016). Those efforts continue to evolve under the current leadership of Wendy Abshire and with a new strong partnership with California University of Pennsylvania (Cal U). A small dedicated staff, program scientific and educational consultants, a nationwide network of teacher mentors, and faculty adopters of AMS weather, ocean, and climate curriculum are all essential components of the program’s success.

The DataStreme Atmosphere, Water in the Earth System, Ocean, and Earth’s Climate System graduate-level semester-long professional development courses have directly trained more than 22,000 teachers and impacted nearly 200,000 additional teachers. Additionally, more than 1100 teachers have attended Project Atmosphere and the Maury Project summer professional development workshops, receiving presentations and instruction from top-level scientists. Millions of students have in turn benefitted from the reach of these programs.

The undergraduate-level AMS Weather, Ocean, and Climate Studies curriculum packages have been offered at hundreds of institutions nationwide, including many MSIs. AMS Diversity Projects have trained MSI faculty through workshops at federal science facilities and the AMS Annual Meeting to locally offer the courses and encourage their students to consider geoscience careers.

In recent years, AMS has fostered relationships with other nonprofit organizations to expand its core programs. For example, Second Nature, lead administrator of the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments, has been a key partner in the AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project, which has included more than 140 MSI faculty. AMS has worked with the Consortium for Ocean Leadership and the U.S. Ice Drilling Program Office on advanced faculty professional development programs in paleoclimate. The ocean sediment core-focused workshops have included 36 MSI faculty, and the ice-core workshops have included 48 MSI faculty, the majority of whom first participated in the Climate Diversity Project.

The future looks bright as AMS invests in existing successful programs while embracing new opportunities to foster scientific literacy. Most recently, having been unsuccessful in securing continued external funding for DataStreme Earth’s Climate System, the Society demonstrated its commitment to climate science education opportunities for K-12 teachers by directing an internal grant to support the courses’ ongoing implementation.

After a long and successful partnership with SUNY Brockport, in 2017, the AMS Education Program entered into a new agreement with Cal U to serve as the institutional partner for K-12 teacher professional development courses. This arrangement provides participants the opportunity to earn tuition-free graduate credits upon successful completion of each course. Teachers can now apply the 9 tuition-free DataStreme credits toward an online Master of Education degree through Cal U or credits for all five teacher professional development offerings to the AMS DataStreme Certificate, a Cal U online graduate certificate. In addition, many ongoing enhancements are being made to the DataStreme courses, all to advance the scientific literacy of modern K-12 teachers and their students.

The AMS Education Program is eager to continue serving the entire AMS membership as it works to foster Earth science literacy nationwide. Throughout its existence, the efforts of the program would not have been, or continue to be, obtainable without support from our enduring sponsors at NOAA (including NWS), the U.S. Navy (specifically the Office of Naval Research), National Science Foundation, and NASA.

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