87th AMS Annual Meeting

Sunday, 14 January 2007
Use of radiosonde launch video coupled with data analysis lab activity to increase understanding of upper air data in an undergraduate introductory meteorology course
Exhibit Hall C (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
Tim R. Walsh, Wayland Baptist Univ., Plainview, TX; and M. Bryan
As part of the NWSTC Online Weather Studies Workshop and AMS Diversity Project short course held during May 2006, participants toured the facilities of the National Weather Service Center in Topeka, Kansas and observed a radiosonde (weather balloon) launch. The launch was videotaped, as were question and answer sessions both before and after the launch. This video has been digitized and edited into a sequence suitable for classroom use in an undergraduate introductory meteorology course.

The question and answer session is a highly instructive discussion on the use of weather balloons to collect upper air data. Topics range from the extent of data coverage within the United States to global synchronization of launches to actual mechanics of the radiosonde and balloon launch.

In addition, the data collected by the specific radiosonde launched that day was incorporated into a lab activity designed to familiarize students with upper air data plots and interpretation. The combination of video sequence with real data in the lab exercise was intended to help students gain a more concrete understanding of where and how seemingly abstract data is collected. “This data was measured by the radiosonde hanging from that balloon launched into a sky they can actually see.”

The video and lab activity were used in an undergraduate Meteorology course at Wayland Baptist University in the Fall of 2006. This course also used the AMS Online Weather Studies materials for the first time. The online “Current Weather Studies” sections of the class materials were accessed from computers in one the Earth Science labs. Course management and completions of assignments under BlackBoard was tested. Other laboratory activities and internet resources were use in complement to the AMS materials to provide a full 3 hour lecture/1hour lab course. Meteorology has previously been taught at Wayland's Plainview, TX campus every other year, and sporadically at other Wayland campuses. An online version of the course is planned, with implementation in 2007, and which will be taught more frequently.

Founded in 1908, Wayland Baptist University is the oldest institution in continuous operation on the high plains of Texas. The university operates 14 campuses and serves nearly 6000 students of great ethnic diversity throughout the system. The main campus is located in Plainview, Texas, while others range from San Antonio, Texas to Aiea, Hawaii and Fairbanks, Alaska. Wayland is a liberal arts university offering bachelor's degrees in a wide variety of disciplines from the arts and education to math, science, sport science, business, religion and the humanities. Master's degrees are available in social science, religion, education, business and science. The university maintains a focus on learning and student success and service.

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