NOAA: Teachers in the Lab

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Monday, 18 January 2010
Daniel E. Wolfe, NOAA ESRL, Boulder, Colorado, Boulder, CO; and C. W. Fairall, P. D. Blanken, and D. M. Stanitski

Handout (395.7 kB)

NOAA's Teacher in the Lab (TIL) is a new pilot program modeled after the successful NOAA Teacher at Sea program. The mission of the TIL program is to provide teachers hands-on experience in a NOAA lab working side-by-side with NOAA scientists on a specific research project. The program's overall goals are to increase knowledge among teachers of earth system science, in-line with Ocean and Climate Literacy Principles, and to increase teachers' knowledge of careers that support earth system science. Teachers are expected to bring new and fresh ideas into the research community.

During summer 2009, Drs. Peter Blanken and Diane Stanitski participated in TIL at the Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) in Boulder, CO. Blanken and Stanitski have specific interests in air-sea fluxes and boundary layer climatology, which align perfectly with the expertise of their mentors, Dr. Chris Fairall and Daniel Wolfe. For three weeks they worked together to identify ways to improve education and outreach associated with these scientific fields. Blanken worked with data from the 300-meter tall tower, Boulder Atmospheric Observatory (BAO), that monitors atmospheric profiles of temperature, moisture, wind, carbon dioxide, and other atmospheric trace gases. A small experiment was planned making use of the BAO's unique capabilities. Stanitski helped conduct an inter-comparison test between flux sensors on the University of Hawaii R/V Kilo Moana and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Hawaii Ocean Timeseries (HOT) Site (WHOTS) ocean reference mooring north of the island of Oahu. Early results from the collaborative work at the BAO and during WHOTS will be shown.

The collaboration between teachers and mentors will extend well beyond the initial 3-week period. Future plans include co-authoring papers and reports, presenting results at professional scientific meetings, and team-teaching university-level courses during the 2009-2010 academic year. Lesson plans for undergraduates will be designed using NOAA data. A children's book describing Careers in the Atmospheric Sciences will be created from interviews with ESRL scientists. Another goal of this partnership is to involve students from the University of Colorado, Boulder more directly in the wide array of research at ESRL.