4.2 GLOBE Atmosphere and AMS Diversity Program Content to Foster Weather and Climate Science Awareness at HBCUs: A Curriculum Enhancement Model

Tuesday, 9 January 2018: 10:45 AM
Ballroom C (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
David Padgett, Tennessee State Univ., Nashville, TN

Tennessee State University (TSU), located on two urban campuses in Nashville, Tennessee, is a designated Historically Black College and University (HBCU) with a population of approximately 9,000 students, including about 6,800 undergraduates. The College of Education produces more Education degrees than any other HBCU. Tennessee State University (TSU) is a member institution on the “Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Mission Earth” project funded by NASA. Approximately 50 percent of students enrolled in TSU’s World Regional Geography (GEOG 1010/1020) courses are pre-service teachers. The GEOG 1010/1020 courses are required for students earning degrees and certification leading to teaching careers. Pre-service teachers who successfully complete a series of required GEOG 1010/1020 course exercises are certified in the GLOBE Atmosphere Protocols. A portion of the training is completed online via the GLOBE “eTraining” portal. As part of the certification process students must also demonstrate proficiency in atmospheric data collection and data entry procedures.

The pre-service teachers are required to develop and deliver GLOBE Atmosphere Protocol-based lessons to students at partner high schools. The exercise is a service learning outreach effort as the youth participants are nearly entirely from groups underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines generally, and weather/climate science, specifically. For example, one partner school Stratford STEM Magnet High School, is approximately 68 percent African American with 91 percent qualifying for the free and reduced price lunch program. A second partner school, Pearl-Cohn High School, is approximately 93 percent African American with 93 percent qualifying for the free and reduced price lunch program.

The chosen theme for the outdoor exercise is “Exploring the Impacts of Urban Heat Islands (UHI) using Geospatial Technology.” The majority of the TSU and high school students have spent most of their lives in urban environments and thus, have either been directly, or indirectly, impacted by the negative health effects associated with UHIs. The UHI phenomenon is of interest to African American and other students of color as it has significant health and quality of life impacts upon large city populations, especially residents of vulnerable communities. The study of the UHI effect is holistic encompassing atmospheric, health, and social sciences. The outdoor exercise at primarily follows the GLOBE Surface Temperature Protocols. Surface temperature, ambient air temperature, and cloud cover data are collected. Infrared thermometers provide students with clear observations of the differences in temperature between human-built land cover versus green space. The absolute locations of the sample points are logged using Garmin GPS receivers and then mapped using ArcGIS Online (http://arcg.is/1oiD379). The on-the-ground temperature observations are compared to ambient air temperatures recorded by WeatherBug weather stations (http://achieve.weatherbug.com/).

The service learning outreach associated with this experience requires collegians to thoroughly understand the physical, social, and health science content associated with urban heat islands in order to effectively impart the information to younger learners. The high school students are motivated to be engaged in learning the earth science content due to their closeness in age and social context to the college students. All of the students have the advantage of learning via hands-on engagement making somewhat complex and unfamiliar meteorology, climate science, and geospatial technology concepts somewhat easier to interpret.

The optimal result is to have pre-service teachers completing the GEOG 1010/1020 courses, and being certified in the GLOBE Atmosphere Protocols, enroll in the Weather and Climate (GEOG 3500) course. The GEOG 3500 course is supported by the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Weather Studies and Climate Studies Curriculum (https://www.ametsoc.org/ams/index.cfm/education-careers/education-program/undergraduate-faculty/weather-studies). Tennessee State University faculty, and others from HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions (MSI), have completed training to deliver the curriculum through the AMS Diversity Program (https://www.ametsoc.org/ams/index.cfm/education-careers/education-program/undergraduate-faculty/climate-studies/climate-studies-diversity-project/). The AMS Weather Studies and Climate Studies programs have been institutionalized at Tennessee State University (TSU) since fall 2005. Approximately 250 undergraduate students have been exposed to the interactive AMS learning materials over the past 10-plus years. Non-STEM, and education majors are stimulated by the real-time course content and are encouraged to think critically about atmospheric systems science, and perhaps pursue further study at the graduate level.

The “vertical integration” model being developed herein is designed to be replicated at other HBCUs and MSIs as an effective vehicle for drawing students from underrepresented groups into the STEM education pipeline, particularly those planning careers in teaching.

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