The National Science Standards are encouraging educators to be innovative, while being creative, to develop “live event learning” experiences for students. This type of learning gives students meaning to the concepts they learn and allow for the application to real life situations. With the help of the AMS, NWS-Norman, OK., NSSL-Norman, OK, SPC and Oklahoma University, I have developed a field experience that converts the “sluggish” idea that students may have about science into “pulse quickening” experiences that will create life long learning. The field experience is a 5 day workshop that focuses on the major components that make up the prediction, research and study of severe weather in the Central Great Plains.
II. Program This field experience is part of a high school meteorology course that was started in 1994. The actual birth of the field experience stems from my AMS-Project Atmosphere experience in Kansas City, MO in the summer of 1997. With the help of Dr. Ira Geer and Dr. Robert Weinbeck, I was introduced to Dr. Joseph Schaefer. Dr. Schaefer, the director of the Storm Prediction Center, invited my class from Minnesota to visit them for an educational tour. That invitation has opened the door for more opportunities for my program to expand. For the past six years I have been bringing students to Norman, Oklahoma, and each year, more organizations and researchers become part of a very intense five day field study.
III. Evolution The field experience started in the beginning as a tour and programs put on by the Storm Prediction Center and the National Severe Storms Laboratories. Presentations from Dr. Howard Bluestein and several graduate students from Oklahoma University were also part of the experience. This program has now evolved into an intense five day research and fact filled workshop that includes input from many different avenues. The most recent inclusion to the field study is the actual “hands on” experience with the Doppler on Wheels crew directed by Dr. Joshua Wurman of Oklahoma University. Dr. Wurman allows us to track storms with his crew during an actual weather event. The students are able to view doppler radar images as well as take part in the “pretracking” meeting that occurs before and “rubber hits the pavement.” To date, we have had three very successful deployment with the DOW, (Doppler On Wheels), with the most successful deployment on May 3, 1999.
The student’s perspective of science is usually slighted, unfortunately it isn’t in the favor of science. With exciting programs and intense live event learning experiences, the students are looking at “applied” science in a different light.
Live event learning is the way of teaching in the new millennium. The advanced world in which we live demands it and students require this type of teaching. Students will take ownership of their learning if they see the application to real life. We as educators need to be innovative to prepare our students for the challenges of our complex world.