148 But Can I Use This on Monday Morning? Adapting Professional Development Curriculum in Atmospheric Science for Immediate Use in the Classroom

Monday, 8 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Richard Marshall Jones, Univ. of Hawaii, Kaploei, HI

Following participation in the American Meteorological Society Professional Development program, Project Atmosphere, a two-week weather and climate workshop for K-14 teachers, I was eager to try one of the inquiry-based activities in my introductory Atmospheric Science and Climate Science courses at the University of Hawaii West Oahu. These courses have been designed to make science meaningful and accessible to general education students and to provide an “Earth Science” course to pre-service teachers. Students in these courses also mirror the campus demographic, primarily minority, the first person in the family to attend college, and generally weak in mathematics and science content. The activity chosen, Atmosphere in the Vertical, used existing radiosonde data from a weather balloon launch in Topeka, KS. Students used this data to construct a Stüve diagram for the atmosphere over the launch location. While the activity was meaningful, provided useful graphing skills, and helped students understand temperature and moisture changes in the troposphere, they indicated that they would like to know what the atmosphere “looked” like above them. This question led to a “place-based” modification of the activity by using recent data from the “most local” balloon launch site, Lihue, HI as accessed via the University of Wyoming’s soundings site (http://weather.uwyo.edu/upperair/sounding.html).

This site provides twice daily upper air sounding data from over 1000 locations globally. The Lihue data was accessed for the day the modified activity was used and provided a near “real time” view of the troposphere above Hawaii. After plotting the data students’ curiosity was piqued, bringing about further modification of the activity to address questions about the latitudinal effects on the troposphere. Adding data from Barrow, AK gave them the opportunity to compare cross sections from the tropical and the polar troposphere, helping them visualize the changes in tropospheric thickness from low to high latitudes. Was the activity effective? Based on comments on the end of course evaluation, students cite, “using local data was a strength of the course because it brought the learning home”.

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