Tools for Exploring NASA Earth Observing System Climate Data in K-12 Classrooms
The Atmospheric Science Data Center (ASDC) at NASA's Langley Research Center houses over 700 data sets related to Earth's radiation budget, clouds, aerosols and tropospheric chemistry. These data sets were produced to increase academic understanding of the natural and anthropogenic perturbations that influence global climate change. The “Mentoring and inquirY using NASA Data on Atmospheric and earth science for Teachers and Amateurs” (MY NASA DATA) project has been established to systematically support educational activities at all levels of formal and informal education by reducing these large data holdings to ‘microsets' that will be easily accessible and explored by K-12 educators and students.
The microsets are being made available on the MY NASA DATA Web site (http://mynasadata.larc.nasa.gov) with associated lesson plans, suggested computer tools, data information pages, and a science glossary. The smallest data sets are in simple ASCII text format with no tools required. For intermediate users, instructions are available for loading the microsets into Microsoft Excel, and the IDL 6.0 Virtual Machine (RSI) is being used to make simple visualizations freely available. Most interestingly, a Live Access Server (LAS) has been populated with ASDC data holdings such that users can explore the data and create custom microsets. The Live Access Server tool, developed by NOAA, can provide images as well as text-formatted data for use with spreadsheets and ArcView (ESRI). Currently, over 100 parameters from the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES), the Surface Radiation Budget (SRB), Tropospheric Ozone Residual (TOR), Advanced Very-High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) are available for inquiry.
The MY NASA DATA project also offers interactive video-linked classroom programs through NASA's Digital Learning Network. Additionally, practicing teachers or amateur scientists may submit successful lesson plans or tools that they have created or utilized with the data for sharing with other users. National teacher workshops are also held each summer to help teachers learn about incorporating the microsets and tools into their curriculum. Twenty new lessons were made at the 2005 summer workshop held July 25-29, 2005, at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Through such networks of support, the MY NASA DATA project can serve as mentors to teachers, assisting with any initial concern over scientific data use in the classroom.