A low-cost electronic chart wall for undergraduate program enhancement
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Tuesday, 19 January 2010: 5:15 PM
In the era of facsimile charts and teletypes, everyone from the new freshman to the department chair frequented the common space where weather charts and text products were displayed. Although the advent of computer data delivery and graphic display on virtually everyone's PC opened up many paths for learning and understanding, some aspects of traditional meteorology education have suffered. The informal education (which was often peer-learning) which took place in the "weather office" or "chart room" is not easily duplicated in a pure classroom or laboratory environment. Moreover, the numerous displays spanning time and vertical space of a robust paper chart wall likely played a pivotal role in learning synthesis skills and developing spatial understanding.
An attempt to restore some of this meteorology culture has been made in the form of an electronic chart wall and student gathering place. Today's powerful yet low-cost display, communication and computing technology permit a fairly capable installation with a surprisingly small expenditure (under $5000 USD). The equipment, software, budget and challenges are detailed. Although not even close to superlative examples such as the recent Penn State Weather Office renovation, an installation such as the one described is well within the reach of almost any sized undergraduate meteorology program.