Lessons learned from the CISM Space Weather Summer School

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 11:15 AM
227A-C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Michael Wiltberger, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and N. Gross, W. J. Hughes, and D. J. Knipp

The CISM Space Weather Summer School(SWSS) is a two-week program that provides students with a comprehensive overview of the Sun-Earth System. The target audience is graduate students early in their studies who are interested in space physics or space weather as a research field, professionals who need a basic understanding of the Sun-Earth system in order to perform their jobs, and some advanced undergraduates. The school covers three basic topics: the space environment, space weather effects, and modeling the space environment, or, as George Siscoe first coined: “Reality, Harsh Reality, and Virtual Reality.” Students attend three lectures each morning, usually one on each of the three basic topics, and spend the afternoons exploring the concepts introduced in the morning through the analysis and display of model simulations.

The goal of the CISM SWSS is to provide those attending with a broad overview of the Sun-Earth system, how space weather effects arise, and how models can be used to help understand, investigate, and predict the space weather system. The intent is that those going on to more extensive study and research will obtain a broad framework within which they can organize the more detailed knowledge, theory, and understanding they learn in graduate school, so that they better understand the broad implications of the research topic they pursue. For professionals whose job requires a basic understanding of the space weather system, the summer school can provide much of what they need. For this reason, and because it accommodates participants with a broad range of backgrounds, the content focuses of a sound conceptual understanding of the space environment and space weather rather than mathematically-based theory.

The CISM SWSS utilizes the successful format developed over the past ten years. We will continue to admit approximately 30 students to a two-week summer school each summer. Mornings will consist of three lectures. The afternoons will be set aside for hands-on laboratory exercises designed to allow the students to more deeply explore the topic from the morning using results from a broad range of numerical models. We have found the utilization of modern teaching techniques to ensure active involvement of the students to be highly effective in ensuring students understand the concepts being presented. We also have a just-in-time assessment program conducted each day as well as an opportunity for the students to ask for clarification about the morning lectures. The summer school concludes with a capstone project in which the students use the knowledge they have learned from the school to assemble a forecast of a space weather event from its origins on the Sun to its effects on the Earth.