AMS DataStreme Project and the NGSS

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Monday, 3 February 2014: 2:00 PM
Room C109 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
James A. Brey, AMS, Washington, DC; and I. W. Geer, R. S. Weinbeck, E. W. Mills, and K. A. Nugnes

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) DataStreme Project is a free professional development program for in-service K-12 teachers, in which they gain considerable subject matter content and confidence in Earth and space science instruction. The graduate-level DataStreme Atmosphere, Ocean, and Earth's Climate System (ECS) courses are offered each fall and spring semester by Local Implementation Teams (LITs) across the country in coordination with DataStreme Central, a team of AMS Education Program scientists and educators who develop instructional materials, provide logistical support to the LITs, and administer the project. The 3-member LITs mentor about 8 teachers and in some instances an emergency manager, per semester through a given DataStreme course, which is taken mostly online with 3 face-to-face meetings. Teachers may receive 3 tuition-free graduate credits through State University of New York's The College at Brockport upon completion of each DataStreme course and construction of a Plan of Action for educational peer-training.

DataStreme has traditionally followed the National Science Education Standards guidelines for teacher professional development, with an emphasis on understanding the Earth's environment. DataStreme is also in close alignment with the recently published A Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Investigating the scientific basis of the workings of Earth's atmosphere, ocean, and climate system follows the cross-cutting theme of the Framework and the NGSS. This Earth system-based approach is the cornerstone of the three DataStreme courses as exemplified by the course investigations, including an examination of El Niņo/La Niņa and the features and causes of Earth's planetary-scale atmospheric circulation.

The roles of water in Earth's surface processes, weather and climate, and global climate change are NGSS Earth and Space Science Disciplinary Core Ideas and the major themes of the DataStreme courses.

These courses provide K-12 teachers process and content knowledge to help them teach in the Earth and Space Science (ESS) disciplinary area. For example, a DataStreme ECS investigation explores the global water cycle and how it links the principal components of the Earth system. Some concepts within the DataStreme courses also assist teachers with components of the Physical Science (PS) and Life Science (LS) disciplinary areas. In DataStreme Atmosphere and ECS, teacher participants are introduced to electromagnetic radiation and then apply that basic knowledge to the planetary energy budget, the stratospheric ozone shield, and subsequently to global radiative equilibrium and climate change. Additionally, participants learn about the conservation of energy in terms of expansional cooling and compressional warming related to cloud growth. DataStreme Ocean helps teachers learn more about life science core ideas such as growth and development of marine organisms and energy transfer within ecosystems.

Key to the NGSS is that students learn disciplinary core ideas in the context of science and engineering practices. In order for the students to learn in this way, the AMS believes that it is important to train the teachers in this context. DataStreme courses enable teachers to investigate scientific concepts as scientists do, using real-world, real-time data to draw conclusions while using models to understand the concepts. In addition to having customized weather maps from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) that automatically update numerous times daily, DataStreme investigations are generated in near real-time when pertinent extreme events occur. Two such activities include one about the vertical structure of Superstorm Sandy as it was coming ashore and a second about the 2011 Japan/Great Tohoku earthquake/tsunami event before the leading tsunami wave traversed the globe. Hands-on models are also used throughout the courses, particularly throughout DataStreme Ocean, where participants are given an inflatable globe to study complex oceanographic topics such as tidal bulges and plate tectonics. Participants also make a wave analyzer slide chart to investigate deep- and shallow-water waves and a rotating model ocean basin to understand upwelling and downwelling and ocean productivity.

The NGSS highlight the seven crosscutting concepts presented in Chap. 4 of A Framework for K-12 Science Education. These include (1) Patterns; (2) Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation; (3) Scale, proportion, and quantity; (4) Systems and system models; (5) Energy and matter; (6) Structure and function; and (7) Stability and change. DataStreme courses assist teachers in learning Earth science-based examples of these crosscutting concepts, which deepen the understanding of disciplinary core ideas and unite scientific disciplines. For example, DataStreme Atmosphere emphasizes the presence of weather patterns as viewed on maps of the surface and upper layers in the troposphere.

The AMS DataStreme Project has received financial and in-kind support from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and NOAA. Since 1996, more than 18,000 teachers have completed a DataStreme course, directly impacting hundreds of thousands of additional teachers and more than 1 million students. As the NGSS shape science education in the years to come, DataStreme courses will continue to be an excellent resource for teacher professional development.