6.2 Using Alternative Formats to Reach Underserved Areas of the Community Efficiently

Tuesday, 8 January 2019: 3:15 PM
North 229AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Erik M. Heden, NOAA, Newport, NC

On March 1st, 2016, Google Hangouts was added to NOAA’s Google Apps Services. Google Hangouts is a communication service that can be used for multi-party conferences and is supported across various web browsers and iOS devices. Google Hangouts has an enormous potential to reach a wide cross-section of the population and at the same time being very efficient and cost effective.

In 2017 the National Weather Service Weather (NWS) Forecast Office in Morehead City, NC, (MHX) began to explore using Google Hangouts as a way to better serve their entire county warning area (CWA). In the 3 years leading up to the testing of Google Hangouts, 82% of our school visits had been to schools 30 miles or less from the office. During this same time, the largest city in the CWA, Greenville, with a population of over 91,000, had only been visited once. At the other end of the population spectrum, multiple counties with total populations of less than 10,000 had also only been visited once. Results of this initial test were positive. In one hangout, MHX reached 24 classes and 500 students in just one hour, while never leaving the NWS office itself. Benefits included having multiple co-workers as speakers, allowing the students to tour operations virtually, and to see what equipment meteorologists use everyday to do their jobs. Feedback was gathered through the use of Google forms and was very positive, especially with regards to being able to virtually tour the office and speak with an expert on weather and science topics the students were currently learning.

This presentation will discuss how the NWS in Morehead City is following up the initial experiment to make improvements and incorporate external core partners in our hangouts. Examples from WFO Morehead City will be given along with some of the lessons learned from each experience. Goals include incorporating a local broadcast meteorologist in the Google Hangouts experience along with a coastal partner from the NOAA North Carolina Sentinel Site Cooperative. This supports implementation of the next generation science standards for k-12 weather, climate, and ocean education.

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