87th AMS Annual Meeting

Tuesday, 16 January 2007: 2:15 PM
Integration of Lecture, Laboratory and Hands-On Activities in an Introductory Severe Weather Course for Non-Majors
206B (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
Lourdes B. AvilÚs, Plymouth State Univ., Plymouth, NH
Poster PDF (147.1 kB)
Traditionally, introductory science courses consist of separate lecture and laboratory sessions. The use of in-class activities to promote active learning in lecture settings has become more prevalent in the later years. However, lectures and laboratories are still treated as separate entities, where students either attend class or perform a laboratory activity. The author will describe the implementation of a completely integrated introductory course in Severe and Hazardous Weather for non-majors fulfilling the Scientific Inquiry requirement of the General Education Program at Plymouth State University.

The structure of the course is non-linear, with the order in which topics are covered depending on the term (time of the year) and any currently occurring severe weather events. The students use laptop computers for activities such analyzing current weather data and finding information about historical weather events. Each topic consists of five to ten minute lecture pieces alternated with various types of activities that include analyzing maps, drawing diagrams, performing simple calculations, answering questions and researching topics and events. The activities range from very short (couple of minutes) to long, period-length, in-depth laboratory-type work. The course has become extremely popular and has received excellent evaluations from both the students and the administration of the University.

We will discuss implementation issues, seasonally-appropriate topic order, taking advantage of the textbook, computer usage and examples of simple and sophisticated activities done in the course.

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