170 Summer Weather Camps - Opening Doors To CAREERs in Meteorology

Monday, 24 January 2011
Washington State Convention Center
H. Michael Mogil, How the Weatherworks, Naples, FL; and V. R. Morris

During the past 9 years (2002-2010), Howard University (Washington, DC), operating under the NCAS umbrella (NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences) has operated a summer weather camp for high school students interested in pursuing careers in atmospheric sciences. The University of Puerto Rico (Mayaguez, PR), also working within an NCAS framework, has been part of the effort. Similar summer camps have been held at Jackson State University (Jackson, MS), City University of New York (New York City) and the University of Texas – El Paso (El Paso, TX).

During this time period, more than 200 students have had an opportunity to experience meteorology in a university setting. Camps have primarily focused on introducing students to the physical, dynamical and forecasting aspects of research and operational meteorology. This has included visits to NOAA, TV and private sector sites, as well as having speakers from these sites visit the weather camp. Some presentations (primarily with NOAA's National Hurricane Center) have been shared via teleconferencing, allowing students in Puerto Rico, New York City and Washington, DC a chance to interact at the same time with hurricane forecasters. In 2009, the Howard Weather Camp started to more intensely screen campers to ensure they had an interest in meteorology as a career.

The Howard University camp has benefited from being at the hub of the Nation's weather service community. And, in recent years, the emphasis of its program has expanded to add a significantly greater focus on societal impacts and exposure to other disciplines and/or industries that use weather. On a routine basis, Noblis, a private sector company located in the nearby Virginia suburbs, offers a 5 to 6 hour program that addressed highway weather, new requirements for radar algorithms and storm surge forecasting. Starting in 2008, speakers at the Howard weather camp also included a private sector company that specialized in meteorological and oceanographic forecasting for yacht races and the USDA's Forest Service (fire weather). Recent additions included commodities trading, storm chasing, college planning and other topics.

Campers also received corporate style training in team building and communications. Campers were required to research various topics and present PowerPoint programs with an audience of campers, parents and camp faculty.

Other campsites have included visits to tornado damage sites, ocean research vessels, beaches and other weather settings.

And new campsites are being planned for 2011 and 2012 as the program expands.

This presentation will showcase all aspects of these programs and how they fit into NCAS' latest NSF initiative – CAREERS (Channeling Atmospheric Research into Educational Experiences Reaching Students). We will also be encouraging teachers to help us discover potential camper recruits.

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