J1.5A Undergraduates using multimedia to present climate research in their own words: An overview of the Communicating Climate Change program at the University of North Dakota

Monday, 24 January 2011: 5:00 PM
604 (Washington State Convention Center)
Gretchen Mullendore, University of North Dakota , Grand Forks, ND; and L. Munski, A. Kirilenko, F. Remer, and M. Baker

Recent surveys have shown that much confusion about climate change exists among both professionals and students in the Upper Midwest. In addition to this confusion, the region is lagging behind other parts of the country in offering opportunities in climate change education. With funding from the NASA Global Climate Change Education program, University of North Dakota has implemented the Communicating Climate Change program. This program provided regional undergraduates with an internship opportunity in summer 2010 to learn about the fundamentals of climate change and to complete their own research projects using observational and model data. An integral part of the learning process included training in using media technology (webcasts) as a communication tool, culminating in production of a webcast about investigating aspects of climate change. The internship culminated with presentations to the community by each of the undergraduate research groups. The internship participants were primarily from non-research-intensive universities with a wide array of majors, and included both women and Native American students. Pre-/post-assessment activities demonstrated significant increases in confidence in both understanding and communicating climate science among all participants. Fifty percent reported they were “extremely more likely” to attend graduate school after participating in the research program. The second phase of this program, beginning fall 2010, involves the development of lesson plans to complement the undergraduate-produced webcasts to be used in regional middle school classrooms. These lesson plans will be disseminated via the Internet as well as an on-campus teacher workshop and the existing Dakota Science Center PowerOn! program that provides hands-on STEM modules to rural schools in the region.
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