212 Teaching Aids in the Discussion of Climatology

Monday, 11 January 2016
Gerald J. Mulvey, University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX

Handout (912.1 kB)

Abstract Introductory classes in climatology face a number of challenges. These courses are taken by both geophysical science majors and non-majors. The American Meteorological Society Glossary (ref: American Meteorological Society ,2014) describes climate as: “The slowly varying aspects of the atmosphere–hydrosphere–land surface system. It is typically characterized in terms of suitable averages of the climate system over periods of a month or more, taking into consideration the variability in time of these averaged quantities. Climatic classifications include the spatial variation of these time-averaged variables. Beginning with the view of local climate as little more than the annual course of long-term averages of surface temperature and precipitation, the concept of climate has broadened and evolved in recent decades in response to the increased understanding of the underlying processes that determine climate and its variability.” To college freshmen a discussion of statistical representations of meteorological variables can be “dry” and uninteresting. To keep the students engaged, instructors use a combination of techniques including current meteorological event descriptions and videos, climate change model experiments, and use of proxy techniques to illuminate climate trends. To excite and challenge the students, physical teaching aids are required beyond the images and videos of the class room lectures. Such aids can bring the data sources and impact of climate alive. A physical examination of tree ring cores and ocean sediment core samples are examples of the later technique. This work was the outcome of the American Meteorological Society and the National Science Foundation through the MSI-REaCH (Reconstruction Earth's Climate History) an advanced professional development program for geoscience faculty at minority-serving institutions. This workshop was held at the Gulf Coast Repository at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas on June 21-27, 2015. This poster provides examples of the geological samples, ocean core sediments and tree “cookies” as teaching aids that can be used to bring climatology alive. Summary: Engagement technique to expose students to the excitement of discovery through authentic experiences scientific is a strong stimulation for learning and retention of the material.
- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner