177 Leveraging Field Campaign Resources to Provide Additional Undergraduate Forecasting and Research Experiences: A Case Study from Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry (DC3)

Tuesday, 8 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Gretchen L. Mullendore, Univ. of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND; and J. S. Tilley and L. D. Carey

It is crucial for the next generation of scientists, who will deal increasingly with research areas that cross not only disciplinary but also methodological boundaries, to gain as much cross-disciplinary and cross-methodological experience as possible. Large, agency-funded field campaigns represent this type of research, and as student involvement is normally a stated goal of these campaigns, providing additional avenues for formal undergraduate involvement is desirable. This presentation will present a successful methodology recently tested and implemented at the University of North Dakota (UND) in partnership with the Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry (DC3) campaign and NSF. The program represents a relatively inexpensive method to leverage the significant resources invested in field campaigns for greater educational gains.

An undergraduate course was taught at UND during spring 2011 and spring 2012 that examined the objectives and motivation of the DC3 field campaign, and included discussions about particular challenges involved in making chemical transport measurements as well as hands-on forecasting exercises for all three DC3 regions. In Summer 2012, six UND undergraduate students traveled to University of Alabama in Huntsville to participate in DC3 campaign operations. While in the field, students actively participated in all aspects of weather balloon operations, including instrument preparation and launch, field log documentation, data quality control, mission planning and daily forecast discussions. During the same period, a hands-on forecasting internship was held at UND that gave both graduate and undergraduate students a chance to do forecasting for the campaign and listen in on live forecast discussion. Formal assessment of the undergraduate course showed that all students found the course a worthwhile additional to their university curricula, with this particular campaign providing unique opportunities to discuss lightning physics, mesoscale forecasting, and chemical transport. Students also made significant strides in their forecasting abilities, e.g. pre-/post-assessment showed that students own confidence in forecasting storm type went from “not confident” or “somewhat confident” before the class to “confident” or “very confident” after the class. Preliminary informal assessment shows that the students found both the campaign participation and forecasting internship to be very valuable experiential learning opportunities.

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