8.2 Students of Purdue Observing Tornadic Thunderstorms for Research (SPOTTR): An Update

Wednesday, 9 January 2019: 1:45 PM
North 229AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Robin Tanamachi, Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN; and D. T. Dawson II and L. Carleton Parker
Manuscript (12.0 MB)

Students of Purdue Observing Tornadic Thunderstorms for Research (SPOTTR), a department-sponsored field work course focused on severe weather prediction, observation, and measurement, was recently offered for the third consecutive year at Purdue University. While its design is grounded in best practices from other college-level storm observation courses described previously in published literature, SPOTTR differs in that research-grade meteorological instrumentation is deployed by the students in the context of an organized field observation campaign. We leverage the students’ intrinsic motivation to observe severe weather in person to produce an authentic experiential learning scenario. The results include enhanced instruction in severe thunderstorm forecasting, student training in severe storms field work, and generation of research-quality data sets for ongoing research efforts. The SPOTTR group collaborated with other severe weather research groups in the field, enhancing students’ network of professional contacts. Under the instructors’ guidance, students participated in daily weather briefings, fielded instruments, and documented their deployments. Instructors shared relevant observations with local National Weather Service offices via social media. At the end of each operations day, students engaged in reflective journaling to distill lessons learned.

We present updated findings regarding the SPOTTR’s impacts on students based upon an expanded sample from the 2018 class. An overall increase in students’ knowledge level and confidence, along with the enthusiasm displayed in student comments, continue to affirm the efficacy of the overall experiential course design. The instructors will also present lessons learned and advice for those wishing to emulate the course design.

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner