87th AMS Annual Meeting

Sunday, 14 January 2007
Activity Report on AMS Online Weather and Ocean Studies Courses at the University of Houston Downtown, Houston, Texas
Exhibit Hall C (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
Ayorinde O. Idowu, University of Houston Downtown, Houston, TX
The University of Houston Downtown (UHD) has long been recognized for the rich diversity of its student body. Students come from all ethnic and economic backgrounds including part or full time basis, some in the day, and others evenings and weekends. UHD is a public, urban university committed to providing quality academic programs that serve the needs of the multicultural population of Houston and surrounding communities. It offers both undergraduate and a limited number of graduate academic degree programs to enable students to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in their chosen fields.

The AMS Online Weather Studies Course at UHD is offered for a 3-credit hour, Geol 1304 including laboratory as “Introduction to Meteorology” (3-2-2) science elective course for non-science majors focusing on the study of the atmosphere, its composition, structure and properties with emphasis on the processes that are responsible for weather, climate controls and change as well as the impact of atmospheric phenomena on society. Students routinely collect, analyze, and emphasize online, real-time weather data in order to understand current weather conditions, and be able to make predictions of future weather circumstances. The course has a laboratory component added to a traditional lecture-based introductory level weather course. The course is project-driven, meets twice weekly, and adopts learning investigations available from the Investigation Manuals and course Website. These investigations are assigned as homework, completely partially in class, and serve as basis for “hands-on” for lab use while students are actively engaged in scientific inquiry through the acquisition, analysis, and interpretation of meteorological data. The two investigations format is coordinated with the appropriate Textbook chapter to form the basis of a weekly laboratory experience. Our pre-lab preparation adopts the pre-printed component (hard copy) of each investigation (in the Investigations Manual) to enable students more efficiently utilize the lab time for completing the online component of the investigations.

Dr. Roberto Garza started teaching the first edition of this course at UHD a couple of years ago, while the single session consisted of a maximum of 25 students per semester. A second session taught by another Geology Instructor, Ayorinde Idowu was opened up in summer of 2006 in response to high demand by students. The prospects are very high that a couple of sessions could soon be added to continually meet the high demand for this weather course at UHD.

Another similar course for the Online Ocean Studies is being processed as an “Introduction to Oceanography” for non-majors, and projected to commence in summer 2007 at UHD. A Geology Instructor, Ayorinde Idowu participated in the AMS Online Ocean Studies Workshop held in Seattle, Washington in readiness and anticipation of the establishment of the corresponding Introductory Ocean course for non-majors to be taught on behalf UHD's Department of Natural Sciences. However, it takes a minimum turnaround time of about 18 month's period to process a new course for approval by the Academic Senate Committee before it could be officially offered as a course at UHD.

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