8.3 The AMS Education Program and Broadcast Meteorologists: On a Mission to Raise Scientific Literacy

Thursday, 19 June 2014: 2:30 PM
Alpine Ballroom (Resort at Squaw Creek)
James A. Brey, AMS, Washington, DC; and I. W. Geer, E. W. Mills, R. S. Weinbeck, and K. A. Nugnes

The mission of the AMS Education Program is to raise the scientific literacy of teachers and thereby their students while promoting diversity in the geosciences. To achieve this, AMS Education has developed professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers as well as undergraduate-level courses. In both, broadcasters are urged to assist AMS Education in its mission.

The AMS DataStreme Project is a free professional development program for in-service K-12 teachers, in which they gain considerable subject matter content and confidence in Earth and space science instruction. The graduate-level DataStreme Atmosphere, Ocean, and Earth's Climate System courses are offered each fall and spring semester by Local Implementation Teams (LITs) across the country in coordination with DataStreme Central, a team of AMS Education Program scientists and educators who develop instructional materials, provide logistical support to the LITs, and administer the project. The three-member LITs, typically composed of an AMS-trained teacher leader, college faculty member, and AMS certified broadcaster or NOAA or other federal operational scientist, mentor about 8 teachers and in some instances an emergency manager, per semester through a given DataStreme course. Emphasis is given to recruiting pre-college teachers who are members of minority groups and/or teach at schools with a 25% or greater minority student population.

The courses use current, real-world environmental data to investigate the atmosphere, ocean, and climate system and consist of weekly online study materials (twice-weekly for DataStreme Atmosphere), weekly mentoring, and several face-to-face meetings, all supplemented by a provided textbook and investigations manual. Teachers receive 3 tuition-free graduate credits through State University of New York's The College at Brockport upon completion of each DataStreme course and construction of a Plan of Action for educational peer-training. These programs have directly trained well over 18,000 teachers, increasing their knowledge of online geoscience resources and their confidence in understanding dynamic Earth systems. Through courses modeled on scientific inquiry and fashioned to develop critical thinking skills, these teachers become a resource for their classrooms and colleagues. These teachers have impacted over one million students.

In the undergraduate realm, AMS offers AMS Weather, Ocean, and Climate Studies, innovative undergraduate courses for institutions to locally implement. These high-caliber, scientifically-authentic courses engage students in relevant topics in the geosciences by utilizing real-world, current, environmental data. Designed to be adaptable to traditional, hybrid, or online instructional settings, these courses have already been adopted by more than 780 institutions nationwide.

The courses consist of a fully-integrated set of printed and online learning materials including a comprehensive textbook, investigations manual (eInvestigations manual for AMS Climate Studies), course website, faculty website, and a faculty resource CD.

Updated yearly, the investigations manual contains 30 laboratory activities, two per textbook chapter, and innovatively connects with a third online component, Current Weather/Ocean/Climate Studies, via the course website. These online investigations reference data from the NWS, reports from the IPCC, and accompanying real-world data from other lead scientific organizations. The course website is an all-inclusive webpage that provides links to numerous external sources as well as other information to further engage and educate students.

In addition, course instructors receive a faculty resource CD that contains a faculty manual including learning objectives and suggestions for course implementation, as well as investigations manual answer forms compatible with any course management system, test bank questions and answers, textbook images, and PowerPoint® presentations for each chapter. These courses can be taught by experienced science faculty or those new to teaching the subject matter, including broadcasters. Mentoring by AMS-trained course instructors is available to all new instructors.

In both DataStreme and the undergraduate courses, emphasis is placed on using current, real-world environmental data to investigate the Earth system. Examples that align with the conference themes include atmospheric rivers, which are responsible for major flooding and landslides in the Pacific coast states, and haboobs, both of which are discussed in DataStreme Atmosphere and AMS Weather Studies. Other examples will be given and elaborated on in our presentation.

AMS strongly encourages broadcast meteorologists to participate in AMS Education Program initiatives by becoming members of DataStreme LITs and promoting the local offering of AMS Weather, Ocean, and Climate Studies. For more information, please visit http://www.ametsoc.org/amsedu.

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