AMS Climate Studies: Using real-world datasets in promoting climate science literacy

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Monday, 18 January 2010: 4:30 PM
B214 (GWCC)
James A. Brey, American Meteorological Society, Washington, DC; and I. W. Geer, J. M. Moran, R. S. Weinbeck, E. W. Mills, B. A. Blair, E. J. Hopkins, T. P. Kiley Jr., and E. E. Ruwe

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) views introductory college-level courses to be important avenues for promoting scientific literacy among the public.  Additionally, it is from these courses that future teachers often receive their only college-level training in the sciences AMS represents, and where many future scientists gain their interest and inspiration to pursue further science study and careers.  As such, the AMS Education Program considers the development of high-caliber, scientifically authentic educational materials to be among its highest priorities.  In working toward that goal, the AMS, with support from NSF, NOAA, and NASA, is continuing the development of its suite of introductory college-level courses that engage students and make use of the most up-to-date, real-world environmental datasets.

The newest of these courses, AMS Climate Studies, is a turnkey package which will be licensed by individual colleges for local offering in online, blended, or traditional settings.  The course will place students in a dynamic learning environment where they will investigate the many components of Earth's climate system using real-world datasets.   This allows the course to maintain a strong focus on the science, while still addressing many of the social and societal impacts that draw the attention of today's students.  In this way, the course serves as a great primer in preparing students to become responsible, scientifically-literate participants in discussions of issues related to climate science and climate change.

Developed with major support from NASA, AMS Climate Studies will encourage students to investigate the atmosphere and world ocean as components of Earth's Climate System.  More than 500 colleges and universities throughout the United States have already offered AMS Weather Studies and AMS Ocean Studies, after which AMS Climate Studies is modeled.

The learning system consists of a fully-integrated set of printed and online learning materials focused around a new, hardcover 15-chapter textbook, Climate Studies:  Introduction to Climate Science and an Investigations Manual with 30 lab-style activities that emphasize the use of authentic science data.  The package will also include a course website providing weekly Current Climate Studies along with access to environmental data streams, including an impressive suite of NASA and NOAA images and products.

AMS Climate Studies offers colleges and universities a way to expand their geoscience offerings in a meaningful, cost-effective way. It's also an excellent way for signatories to the American Colleges and Universities Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) to introduce robust climate science into the curriculum.  The flexibility of the course package allows it to be offered by any instructor with a keen interest, and some science-savvy.

The development and testing of AMS Climate Studies is currently nearing completion.  A number of college and university professors have been selected to pilot the program in Spring 2010, with major emphasis placed on representing a diverse array of institutions types, degree programs, course delivery methods, academic backgrounds, etc.  The materials will be vigorously tested and updated accordingly.  AMS Climate Studies will be available for implementation at your institution beginning Fall 2010.