Sunday, 9 January 2005
Between the Chesapeake and the Atlantic: Teaching meteorology on the lower Delmarva Peninsula
This Spring Semester, Eastern Shore Community College (ESCC) will offer the Online Weather Studies course developed by the American Meteorological Society (AMS). One significant goal of the course is to expose minority students (ESCC student enrollment is approximately 45 percent African-American) to career opportunities in the geosciences. Undoubtedly, most students who take the course will have a certain level of interest in weather and climate. The economy of this area – the two counties of Virginia’s Eastern Shore – is heavily influenced by short-term and long-term atmospheric conditions; fishing, farming, and tourism are important sources of income on this rural and sparsely populated peninsula. More apropos to the aim of giving students the chance to see meteorologists at work, this course will include two field trips. Students will visit NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility near Chincoteague, Virginia (www.wff.noaa.gov) where they will be given a guided tour by practicing meteorologists. They will see how weather forecasting is vital to the mission of this large area employer. In addition, students will tour a local television station – WBOC in Salisbury, Maryland (www.wboc.com) – and observe a forecast being prepared for television broadcast. The course itself will stimulate student interest in meteorology through hands-on and real-time exercises and data, most of which are available on the Internet. Instruction will focus on the importance of meteorology to residents of the Eastern Shore (and elsewhere), and hopefully will suggest an exciting career path.