99 Integration of Research-Grade Meteorological Instrumentation into a Severe Storms Field Work Course at Purdue Univ.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018
Stowe & Atrium rooms (Stoweflake Mountain Resort )
Robin Tanamachi, Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN; and D. T. Dawson II and L. Carleton Parker

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. The purposes of using these instruments were to produce an authentic experiential learning scenario, enhance instruction in severe thunderstorm forecasting, train students in the safe operation of instruments in a severe weather environment, and to generate research-quality data sets for both the students' and instructors' research efforts. 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, and collaborated with other severe weather research groups in the field, enhancing students’ network of professional contacts. At the end of each operations day, students engaged in reflective journaling to distill lessons learned.

We present updated findings regarding the SPOTTR course’s impacts on students’ severe weather forecasting skills and career aspirations, along with lessons learned by the instructors. An overall increase in students’ knowledge level and confidence, along with the enthusiasm displayed in student comments, affirm the efficacy of the overall experiential course design. These results constitute a basis for continuation of the SPOTTR course, and a model for other institutions to follow.

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