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