J1.1 Fueling Geoscience Literacy to Better Prepare for the New Energy Economy

Monday, 7 January 2013: 4:00 PM
Room 13AB (Austin Convention Center)
Robert Weinbeck, American Meteorological Society, Washington, DC; and J. A. Brey, I. W. Geer, J. M. Moran, E. W. Mills, and K. Nugnes

Understanding energy production and consumption is key to informed decision-making and actions related to lowering one's energy consumption. The new energy economy requires educators to be scientifically literate to better prepare their students to handle the struggles of tomorrow. To this end, the AMS Education Program has created content-rich, professional development geoscience courses for precollege teachers.

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. The courses use current, real-world environmental data to investigate the atmosphere, ocean, and climate system. Intertwined within the courses are lessons about energy and its effect on our lives, the local and national economy, and the world. Such lessons include tracking Heating Degree Days (HDD) and Cooling Degree Days (CDD) (DataStreme Atmosphere),the use of ocean currents as an alternative energy source (DataStreme Ocean), and comparing carbon dioxide emissions from energy consumption of various countries (DataStreme Earth's Climate System).

Participants are taught how to calculate HDDs and CDDs, shown how to access this data for their local area online through the National Weather Service's website, and learn how fuel dealers and distributors use this data to determine base fuel rates as well as optimize delivery schedules.

The courses also point participants to recent reports from well-known energy organizations. For example, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (successor to the Pew Center for Global Climate Change) reports that as of January 2011, 36 states and the District of Columbia established renewable and alternative energy portfolio standards or goals. These specify that by a target date, electric utilities in the respective states are to generate a certain amount of their electricity from renewable or alternative energy sources (including solar, wind, flowing water, biomass, tides, and waves). These reports further educate participants about current events within these disciplines.

Fundamental to a new energy economy is the lowering of emissions. In DataStreme Earth's Climate System, participants take a look at this topic from various perspectives. From comparing emissions from energy consumption on a country-by-country basis to determining one's own carbon footprint (using the EPA carbon footprint calculator), both approaches are vital in learning how today's energy usage and the new energy economy are evolving.

Throughout our presentation, we will highlight our printed and online course materials related to the new energy economy.

DataStreme Atmosphere, Ocean, and Earth's Climate System consist of weekly online study materials (twice-weekly for DataStreme Atmosphere), weekly mentoring, and several face-to-face meetings, all supplemented by a provided textbook and investigations manual. Throughout all of the courses, teachers have the opportunity to expand their knowledge in the geosciences and incorporate technology into their classrooms by utilizing state-of-the-art resources from NOAA, NASA, and other lead scientific organizations. Upon completion of each course, teachers receive three free graduate credits from SUNY Brockport.

These programs have directly trained almost 17,000 teachers, increasing their geoscience knowledge, pointing them to the resources available online, and building their confidence in understanding dynamic Earth systems. Through courses modeled on scientific inquiry and fashioned to develop critical thinking skills, these teachers become a resource for their classrooms and colleagues. These AMS DataStreme teachers have impacted over one million students.

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner