2.3 Modernizing AMS Project Atmosphere

Monday, 7 January 2019: 2:30 PM
North 229AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Chad M. Kauffman, California Univ. of Pennsylvania, California, PA; and W. Abshire, E. W. Mills, and A. E. Stimach

For over a quarter-century, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Education program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have served as partners for a summer K-12 in-residence professional development opportunity at the National Weather Service Training Center (NWSTC). The program leverages a vast array of NOAA assets and expertise on-site and from afar as instructors and instructional tools. K-12 teachers are competitively selected to participate in the workshop/course and have been afforded the opportunity to earn academic credit for their experience upon completion of course requirements. Project Atmosphere alumni have served as the backbone for other AMS Education initiatives, most notably DataStreme, by becoming mentor leaders in their region, bringing peers into the fold and serving as local educational authorities in weather, ocean and climate science.

Much has changed in the classroom since Project Atmosphere was launched in the late 20th Century. Technological advancements have driven concomitant pedagogical challenges for K-12 educators. Following retirements of long-serving dedicated staff, the AMS Education program is undergoing significant evolution. Now paired with California University of Pennsylvania (Cal U) as its academic credit granting partner, AMS has new tools at its disposal for keeping pace with digital classroom deliverables and continuing engagement with K-12 teachers online. K-12 teachers have more professional development requirements too, limiting their availability for summer workshop time in-residence.

Given the volume and pace of change for K-12 teachers and AMS, and to better match available funding, the 2018 iteration of Project Atmosphere was the first “hybrid” course offering in its existence. Students in the 2018 course still met in-residence at the NWSTC but only for one week, while engaging with instructors and peers two weeks prior to and three weeks after their on-site participation. Participants were required to complete a series of assignments utilizing Cal U’s online course management system (Desire2Learn) before ever arriving at the NWSTC. Desire2Learn was leveraged on-site also as a central resource for curricular materials, instructions and interactivity amongst participants. After work at the NWSTC was concluded, students were required to complete synergistic activities online to close out the final three weeks of the course. Finally, before a final grade was assigned by Cal U, peer training workshops were delivered and verified locally. This presentation will highlight the work and activities assigned to K-12 teachers, both on-site and online, evaluate the initial hybrid offering by sharing feedback from participants and identify areas of improvement for future iterations of this long-standing high-value experience for science teachers nationwide.

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