92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Monday, 23 January 2012: 5:15 PM
Improvements to AMS Pre-College Programs: Results of a Self-Study on DataStreme Atmosphere, Ocean and Earth's Climate System
Room 348/349 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Robert S. Weinbeck, American Meteorological Society, Washington, DC; and J. A. Brey, I. W. Geer, E. W. Mills, and K. A. Nugnes

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) believes that all teachers should be earth science literate. To achieve this, the AMS Education Program offers content-rich, professional development courses for precollege teachers in the geosciences.

During the Fall and Spring semesters, AMS partners with NOAA, NASA and SUNY Brockport to offer DataStreme Atmosphere, Ocean, and Earth's Climate System. These courses are delivered to small groups of K-12 teachers through Local Implementation Teams (LITs) in nearly all 50 states, with twice-weekly online study materials, weekly mentoring, and several face-to-face meetings, supplemented by a provided textbook and investigations manual. Upon completion of each course, teachers receive three free graduate credits from SUNY Brockport.

In 2010, AMS embarked on a comprehensive review to assess the program's practices and impacts. A significant aspect of the self-study was a case study of the AMS DataStreme LIT located in Wisconsin. Lead by an external evaluator, the focus of the study was to gain insight into the AMS DataStreme Model and its affect on knowledge growth and pedagogical development for K-12 teacher participants and their instructors. In particular, environmental literacy in atmospheric science, oceanography, and climate science was examined.

The study also tracked the number of DataStreme courses offered in areas with groups traditionally underrepresented in science. In Spring 2011, 47% of DataStreme Atmosphere participants and 38% of DataStreme Ocean participants worked in schools with more than 25% minority student population.

Data was retrieved using several different methods. The external evaluator conducted phone interviews with the LIT instructors and participating K-12 teachers, and an end-of-course survey data was collected and examined.

Preliminary results look extremely favorable. When the participants were asked to what extent their participation in DataStreme Earth's Climate System increased their understanding of Earth system processes, 82.4% of the participants answered “Much”, the most positive response available. Participants also offered suggestions to improve the courses, including updating the website with new technology, and include more information about careers.

The DataStreme courses have been completed by more than 16,500 teachers, increasing their knowledge of online geoscience resources and confidence in understanding dynamic Earth systems. And, at the same time, those teachers have raised the scientific literacy of more than one million students. Through courses modeled on scientific inquiry and fashioned to develop critical thinking skills, these teachers become a resource for their classrooms and colleagues.

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