3.5 Bridging the gap: Hands-on learning through radiosonde launches

Tuesday, 25 January 2011: 4:30 PM
604 (Washington State Convention Center)
Teresa M. Bals-Elsholz, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN; and K. H. Goebbert, R. Evaristo, A. Stepanek, C. A. Clark, and B. J. Wolf

Effective undergraduate education should go beyond the learning of equations and facts in a lecture style format and include extra-curricular learning activities. Any hands-on experience that students can become involved with only adds to their education. The intangibles that students gain through their participation in collecting meteorological data prepare them for graduate school and the meteorological workforce. In conjunction with a research grant through MIT–Lincoln Laboratory, undergraduate students at Valparaiso University (VU) are hired to launch radiosondes during potential aircraft icing events and make microphysical observations to verify dual-polarization radar observations.

During the 2009-2010 academic year, six undergraduates students were hired as interns to determine appropriate days for icing events, to designate intensive observation periods (IOPs), and to launch during IOPs. Interns worked with VU faculty and staff and MIT-Lincoln Laboratory scientists to plan and deploy the launches. Once the interns identified potential IOPs, all meteorology students were invited to help with radiosonde launches and microphysical observations. Throughout the course of the year interns grew more independent on completing tasks, and all participating students gained experience using different types of meteorological instrumentation.

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