Expanding the National Weather Camp Program (NWCP) – Capitalizing on Local Experiences

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Monday, 5 January 2015: 2:00 PM
125AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Kenneth Dewey, Univ. of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE; and H. M. Mogil

OUTLINE: This presentation will illustrate, based upon our experiences and experiences at other camps, how to create a successful weather camp using local resources; how to create a challenging, yet fun, curriculum; what field trips and activities outside the classroom are the most engaging for the students; and, how to create partnership volunteers to assist with the curriculum both inside and outside the classroom (including, in many cases, after camp experiences). MISSION: The National Weather Camp Program (NWCP) is as an educational outreach activity designed to (1) increase weather, climate and science literacy of Middle School and High School students, (2) to encourage bright, students (especially those from underrepresented groups) to consider science as well as meteorology and climatology careers; (3) to capitalize on learning through interactions with weather scientists, incorporating relevant field trips, and involving campers in hands-on activities, (4) to increase the overall talent pipeline of students pursuing studies in science in general and within the fields of meteorology and climatology, and (5) provide the students with an opportunity to learn how to undertake research through individual and group projects. PARTICIPANTS: As part of the NWCP, each weather camp program attracts both local students as well as those from other states. Former weather camp participants have returned to various camps to assist as camp counselors and even as instructors. Each weather camp independently sets the age range of their participants ranging from Middle School through High School. SCHEDULE: Most weather camps are one week long, however, there are some weather camps that are two weeks long. Several locations offer a series of one day weather camps throughout the year. LOCAL RESOURCES: Weather camps have been successful in getting food donations from local restaurants and craft supplies from local stores. Relationships have been created with local industries near the various weather camps resulting in financial assistance coming in to the local weather camps. Many camps visit a local NWS office or have someone from a nearby NWS office give presentations to the weather campers. Weather camps have also visited local TV stations to meet weather broadcasters, to see live weather broadcasts and to spend time in front of the weather-caster “green wall.” Local museums are also an excellent local resource for weather science or climate science related activities. Weather camps near a university will find eager graduate students and faculty who are available to participate in the weather camp as instructors as well as conduct experiments with the campers. In many locales, various businesses with private sector meteorologists or related scientists come to talk weather with campers. WHY A NATIONAL PROGRAM?: Weather camps all have their own unique “flavor.” However, we in the national program are all committed to the same mission. There is the added benefit of joining the national program to share ideas, learn from the experiences of other weather camps across the U.S., fostering national publicity and obtaining national funding. ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Weather campers have learned leadership skills; how to work in groups to solve problems; how to take daily weather observations; how to use instruments; how to conduct experiments; how to make daily weather forecasts; how to make emergency management decisions; how to conduct research and present it to the public; and. how to manage water resources with several interactive exercises. The Nebraska weather camp had each weather camper choose a weather research topic and using their computer lab. They produced individual posters that were on display at their Friday evening family picnic. Participants at the two-week long Washington, DC weather camp researched and presented 10-minute PowerPoint programs to a room full of parents, scientists and others. Weather camp also allows the students to explore a potential career in weather science and related fields. The Nebraska Camp, for example, has a session with a university recruiter talking about potential science career paths and how to prepare for College. Several high school weather campers have participated in long-term internships during which they engaged in weather research. Several of these weather campers have actually presented papers at AMS and NWA conferences, even while still in high school. START YOUR OWN WEATHER CAMP: The national weather camp continues to be a huge success, let us show you how you can create a successful weather camp and how you can be a part of the NWCP.