2002 Annual

Monday, 14 January 2002: 11:15 AM
Meteorology Education Through Nature Centers
Sue Ellen Haupt, Utah State University, Logan, Utah; and J. J. Barta
Poster PDF (44.3 kB)
Nature Centers are an excellent means of educating the public about natural science. They reach a wide audience with an age range varying from preschoolers through adults. Many of these centers do a wonderful job of educating in such areas as biology, geology, and environmental science; however, it is seldom that one sees a nature center exhibit or program that emphasizes physical science or mathematics. Here we rectify this missing element by developing displays and programs that use meteorology to exemplify physical science and mathematics in the natural world. When people learn about physical science and mathematics in an informal setting, they see the relevance and applicability of that which they learn.

In a collaborative project with the Stokes Nature Center in Logan Canyon, Utah, we develop and pilot integrative, interactive displays and programs helping children and adults learn important mathematical and scientific principles centered on the study of weather and climate. The displays and programs use the natural themes observable in the surrounding environment. The centerpiece of the education programs is a weather station sited near the nature center. This station presents a display within the Nature Center and includes interpretative plots of the data. Data are integrated with other data from nearby stations. Displays are included to explain the weather and climate of the region. In addition, children's programs are developed for both visiting school groups and for teachers who wish to develop classroom meteorology units. Specifically, we integrate physical science and mathematics State Core Curriculum objectives in the presentation and study of meteorology through hands-on displays and experiments. The programs include outside environmental observation and using simple instruments to measure meteorological variables. Students are aided in integrating and interpreting their observations and data. Students use the integrated picture to predict the next day's weather. Teachers then follow-up in the classroom to assess the children's predictions. In this way, school children learn about meteorology in the natural environment plus use mathematical skills to put their newfound knowledge to work.

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