A University/High School Forecasting Classroom
The foundation for this program was laid at the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in 2012, where high school students from CCWS, an AMS Student Chapter from Concord Carlisle High School (CCHS), networked with a graduate student from OU with the goal of advancing their knowledge in meteorology and forecasting. Over the next year and half, this group of students learned meteorological topics at an undergraduate level in order to help them gain confidence in their forecasts. Skills developed included reading and understanding upper air maps, interpreting Skew-T diagrams, and constructing hand analyses. These skills were used to write daily blog posts and make in-depth forecasts for their radio and television weather broadcasts. The learning was facilitated through a Facebook Group.
This year, the program expanded to include MBS and MU. This represents what is hoped to be a continuing expansion of the group.
There were three primary objectives for the 2014 MBS/CCWS Forecasting Group:
Introduce high school students to undergraduate-level meteorology topics to improve their forecasting;
Engage college students in mentoring and communicating meteorological concepts, and;
Promote a dialogue amongst the students through social media that encourages individual and group exploration of meteorological topics and phenomena.
The final product from these interactions includes a new iBook Forecasting Guide that the CCWS and MBS students can use to train their classmates, making teachers out of the students and creating groups that can educate and inform the larger community.
Meteorology, and specifically forecasting, typically is not part of the public high school curriculum, and it is a very complex subject. Teaching these topics, especially over the Internet, requires a highly skilled mentor. While there may be high school teachers who have the passion and knowledge of the subject, they rarely have the time to dedicate to such a specialized topic to students with a passion for the topic. To overcome this, CCWS and MBS students are able to pursue this interest through people who are not far removed from high school (i.e. college students). High school students that do find these experiences as motivation to pursue a meteorology degree will have an excellent head start, and college students get to solidify their knowledge through teaching. This program creates a unique and wonderful learning opportunity for all students involved to learn more advanced topics in weather and science and gain confidence in those topics.
While not necessarily by design, a majority of the participants from the high schools have been females, which is an underrepresented group in STEM education fields.
This program also supports the National Weather Service's (NWS) Weather Ready Nation initiative. How better to create a citizen scientist than to start the education process and plant the seed of interest in high school.