15th Symposium on Education
22nd International Conference on Interactive Information Processing Systems for Meteorology, Oceanography, and Hydrology


A progress report on the Hands—on interdisciplinary laboratory program: an approach to strengthen the weather radar curriculum at the University of Oklahoma

M. Yeary, Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and J. A. Dubois, T. Y. Yu, R. D. Palmer, M. Biggerstaff, L. D. Fink, and C. Ahern

This paper describes the curriculum details of an on-going NSF DUE project that commenced in the fall 2004 semester at the University of Oklahoma (OU). This three-year project offers a new active-learning and hands-on laboratory program that is interdisciplinary, in which engineering, geoscience, and meteorology students are encouraged to actively participate. The program is intended to generate a unique, interdisciplinary research-oriented learning environment that will train future engineers and meteorologists in the full set of competencies needed to take raw radar data and transform it into meaningful interpretations of weather phenomena. The heart of the program is the development of a set of several undergraduate courses, offered by the School of Meteorology and the School of Electrical & Computer Engineering, that will provide hands-on laboratory experiences in the special knowledge and skills necessary for organizing real-time weather data, improving and preparing that data for display, and interpreting its meteorological and scientific significance. In addition, programs for middle school students have been generated for the purpose of increasing their interest in science and engineering prior to entering college.

There are two special features in this research-oriented teaching program: (1) it is the only program in the country with a full and equal collaboration between the School of Meteorology and the School of Electrical & Computer Engineering for the purpose of providing an integrated curriculum on weather radar, and (2) it has access to weather data from the recently constructed National Weather Radar Testbed (NWRT) at the University of Oklahoma. Students have a unique opportunity to take advantage of the weather data derived from this new phased array radar, specifically suited for weather observations. In essence, the project will decentralize this major research facility and make it available at zero-cost to a wide array of students across the nation. By placing the radar's data on a website, a diverse population of students will be able to use this state-of-the-art facility. To bolster the undergraduate education aspects of this project, a small, diverse team of undergraduate peer teachers have been employed - differing from a limited number traditional graduate student(s) that will assist with the laboratory experiments. The judicious use of peer teachers has been shown to be a highly effective means to motivate and retain undergraduates. The principal investigators have partnered with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey (OCS) during the summer of 2005 to adapt and implement project materials directly to middle school students and teachers via the OCS Earth-Storm outreach program. Finally, an assessment plan has been devised by an expert at OU who specializes in learning and course development. Moreover, assessment tools are currently being developed to identify at-risk students who will receive enhanced training.

The full conference paper will discuss our the progress of this project: current laboratory findings, successes, assessment responses from the students, and successes with our summer outreach program. Future work will also be discussed.

extended abstract  Extended Abstract (132K)

Joint Session 4, Tools to Enhance Weather and Climate Data Use in the Classroom (Joint with 15th Symposium on Education and 22nd Conference on Interactive Information Processing Systems)
Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 1:45 PM-5:30 PM, A402

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