The Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) Software Suite: Next Generation Tools for Current and Next Generation Researchers
Climate research scientists need a suite of interrelated diagnostic software tools that are flexible, portable,
efficient, easy-to-use, free, and capable of operating in a distributed environment. The Program for Climate
Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) is involved in two such important software projects (i.e., the
Earth System Grid (ESG) and the Climate Data Analysis Tools (CDAT)) that are well on their way to fulfilling
these requirements. Our plans over the next one to three years is to expand our already-considerable set of
capabilities to serve a much broader set of data that will include biogeochemistry, in-situ, satellite,
intercomparison runs, and many more, on increasingly popular Mosaic grids at much higher resolutions (e.g.,
1 square kilometer). The open nature of the software system permits any member of the climate community
to remotely contribute to the software as well as contribute to the flexible data archive. The ESG currently
manages over 300 TB (terabytes) of data including the most notable Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) archive (known as the Coupled Model Intercomparison
Project 3 (CMIP3) multi-model database). Utilizing current and future technologies and computational
resources, ESG is developing a sophisticated data distribution system that will allow users to remotely
access, visualize and diagnose data. As a component of ESG, CDAT users can accurately subset and
manipulate all aspects of data. In this complete workflow environment, users can gain access and direct the
flow of data through a script file, standalone client, or web-based interface.
Introducing Space Physics: Using Online Data and Simulation Resources in an Undergraduate Physics Lab Examining the Magnetopause
For a variety of reasons, physics students are often not exposed to space physics in their undergraduate coursework. The emergence of online data and computation resources provides new opportunities to bring space physics into the undergraduate curriculum. We will present the results of our experience using online resources in a sophomore/junior lab that focuses on the location of the Earth's magnetopause. The magnetopause's location is an ideal topic to use as an introduction to the magnetosphere and space physics because it can be explained without the need to resort to very much plasma physics. At the simplest level the location can be viewed as a pressure balance between the dynamic pressure of the solar wind and the magnetic pressure of the magnetosphere. This simple model can be used to motivate more complex empirical models and simulations which are based in plasma physics. So students can start at a basic level, but then apply advanced tools to the problem at hand. In our lab, students examine the magnetopause location using simulation results from BAT-R-US global MHD code run at NASA's Community Coordinated Modeling Center. The students also use spacecraft data from CDAWEB to find the magnetopause crossings in data from several spacecraft. This lab has been a challenge for students not only because the space physics is unfamiliar, but also because they are not used to working with complex data sets where the results are open to interpretation. In our view, this lab has been a success because it introduces our students to space physics, online data resources, simulations, and research techniques in an accessible way.
Exploring TechQuests Through Open Source and Tools That Inspire Digital Natives
"There is little doubt that K-12 students need to understand and appreciate the Earth on which they live.
They can achieve this understanding only if their teachers are well prepared". Dan Barstow, Director of
Center for Earth and Space Science Education at TERC.
The approach of San Diego County's Cyberinfrastructure Training, Education, Advancement, and Mentoring
(SD Cyber-TEAM) project is to build understandings of Earth systems for middle school teachers and
students through a collaborative that has engaged the scientific community in the use of cyber-based tools
and environments for learning. The SD Cyber-TEAM has used Moodle, an open source management system
with social networking tools, that engage digital native students and their teachers in collaboration and
sharing of ideas and research related to Earth science. Teachers participate in on-line professional dialog
through chat, wikis, blogs, forums, journals and other tools and choose the tools that will best fit their
classroom. The use of Moodle during the Summer Cyber Academy developed a cyber-collaboratory
environment where teaching strategies were discussed, supported and actualized by participants. These
experiences supported digital immigrants (teachers) in adapting teaching strategies using technologies that
are most attractive and familiar to students (digital natives). A new study by the National School Boards
Association and Grunwald Associates LLC indicated that "the online behaviors of U.S. teens and 'tweens
shows that 96 percent of students with online access use social networking technologies, such as chatting,
text messaging, blogging, and visiting online communities such as Facebook, MySpace, and Webkinz". While
SD Cyber-TEAM teachers are implementing TechQuests in classrooms they use these social networking
elements to capture student interest and address the needs of digital natives.
Through the Moodle environment, teachers have explored a variety of learning objects called TechQuests, to
support classroom instruction previously outlined through a textbook. Project classrooms have participated
in videoconferences over high-speed networks and through satellite connections with experts in the field
investigating scientific data found in the CA State Park of Anza Borrego. Other engaging tools include: An
Interactive Epicenter Locator Tool developed through the project in collaboration with the Scripps Institution
of Oceanography to engage students in the use of data to determine earthquake epicenters during hands
on investigations, and a TechQuest activity where GoogleEarth allows students to explore geographic
locations and scientific data.
An Interactive, Integrated, Instructional Pathway to the LEAD Science Gateway
Linked Environments for Atmospheric Discovery (LEAD) is a bold and revolutionary paradigm that through a Web-based Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) exposes the user to a rich environment of data, models, data mining and visualization and analysis tools, enabling the user to ask science questions of applications while the complexity of the software and middleware managing these applications is hidden from the user. From its inception in 2003, LEAD has championed goals that have context for the future of weather and related research and education. LEAD espouses to lowering the barrier for using complex end-to-end weather technologies by a) democratizing the availability of advanced weather technologies, b) empowering the user of these technologies to tackle a variety of problems, and c) facilitating learning and understanding. LEAD, as it exists today, is poised to enable a diverse community of scientists, educators, students, and operational practitioners. The project has been informed by atmospheric and computer scientists, educators, and educational consultants who, in search of new knowledge, understanding, ideas, and learning methodologies, seek easy access to new capabilities that allow for user-directed and interactive query and acquisition, simulation, assimilation, data mining, computational modeling, and visualization. As one component of the total LEAD effort, the LEAD education team has designed interactive, integrated, instructional pathways within a set of learning modules (LEAD-to-Learn) to facilitate, enhance, and enable the use of the LEAD gateway in the classroom. The LEAD education initiative focuses on the means to integrate data, tools, and services used by researchers into undergraduate meteorology education in order to provide an authentic and contextualized environment for teaching and learning. Educators, educational specialists, and students from meteorology and computer science backgrounds have collaborated on the design and development of learning materials, as well as new tools and features, to enhance the appearance and use of the LEAD portal gateway and its underlying cyberinfrastructure in an educational setting. The development of educational materials has centered on promoting the accessibility and use of meteorological data and analysis tools through the LEAD portal by providing instructional materials, additional custom designed tools that build off of Unidata's Integrated Data Viewer (IDV) (e.g. IDV Basic and NCDestroyer), and an interactive component that takes the user through specific tasks utilizing multiple tools. In fact, select improvements to parameter lists and domain subsetting have inspired IDV developers to incorporate changes in IDV revisions that are now available to the entire community. This collection of materials, demonstrations, interactive guides, student exercises, and customized tools, which are now available to the educator and student through the LEAD portal gateway, can serve as an instructional pathway for a set of guided, phenomenon-based exercises (e.g. fronts, lake-effect snows, etc.). This paper will provide an overview of the LEAD education and outreach efforts with a focus on the design of Web-based educational materials and instructional approaches for user interaction with the LEAD portal gateway and the underlying cyberinfrastructure, and will encourage educators, especially those involved in undergraduate meteorology education, to begin incorporating these capabilities into their course materials.
Building Bridges Between Cyberinfrastructure and Effective Instructional Practice in the Geosciences
The new geo-cybersinfrastructure (CI) has tremendous potential to fundamentally change geoscience
education. Learners will have enhanced opportunities to learn science by doing science, particularly in the
realm of inquiry and discovery through exploration of CI data and data products. The promise of CI lies in the
universal access to data, analytical tools and data products and in the ability to integrate disparate types of
data collected from many sources. But access to data for instructional purposes is not enough. CI may
initially present significant barriers to learning related to data archive issues, access pathways that are
designed for specialists that preclude use by novices, and the lack of educational metadata that can guide
instructors and learners in the appropriate use of CI in a variety of educational applications. Consequently,
there is a need for CI providers to build instructional portals in their systems that allow users to find and
access relevant data; evaluate the quality of data, model output, and other data products; interrogate, sub-
set, manipulate and render data; integrate diverse types of data; generate visualizations and other
representations; and allow student contributions to the database. These capabilities presented by CI have
important implications for what we teach and how we teach: 1) learning goals will have to be realigned to
address concept and content mastery, skill development (higher-order thinking, quantitative, communication,
interpersonal skills), and attitudes and values about Science, its processes and products; 2) assessments
should be well-aligned with instructional goals to measure the process as well as the products of scientific
investigations; 3) "primers" and "tutorials" should be developed to help students become critical consumers
and producers of data by presenting data in the full context of underlying first principles, investigative
strategies, instrumentation and analytical procedures, data manipulation and rendering, and the limitations
and appropriate applications of a given data set; 4) scaffolded, data-rich exercises should be developed to
initially demonstrate how to access and manipulate data, to more advanced applications that require
hypothesis formulation and testing, and 5) the "mind" of the geoscientist (i.e. metacognitive skills) can be
exposed to students through guided discovery by demonstrating how master scientists acquire, represent
and interpret data to solve problems. Example exercises will be demonstrated from the Integrating Research
and Education project.
On-line Geoscience Data Resources for Today's Undergraduates
Broadening the experience of undergraduates can be achieved by enabling free, unrestricted and
convenient access to real scientific data. With funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the Marine
Geoscience Data System (MGDS) (http://www.marine-geo.org/) serves as the integrated data portal for
various NSF-funded projects and provides free public access and preservation to a wide variety of marine
and terrestrial data including rock, fluid, biology and sediment samples information, underway geophysical
data and multibeam bathymetry, water column and multi-channel seismics data. Users can easily view the
locations of cruise tracks, sample and station locations against a backdrop of a multi-resolution global digital
elevation model. A Search For Data web page rapidly extracts data holdings from the database and can be
filtered on data and device type, field program ID, investigator name, geographical and date bounds. The
data access experience is boosted by the MGDS use of standardised OGC-compliant Web Services to
support uniform programmatic interfaces. GeoMapApp (http://www.geomapapp.org/), a free MGDS data
visualization tool, supports map-based dynamic exploration of a broad suite of geosciences data. Built-in land
and marine data sets include tectonic plate boundary compilations, DSDP/ODP core logs, earthquake
events, seafloor photos, and submersible dive tracks. Seamless links take users to data held by external
partner repositories including PetDB, UNAVCO, IRIS and NGDC. Users can generate custom maps and grids
and import their own data sets and grids. A set of short, video-style on-line tutorials familiarises users step-
by-step with GeoMapApp functionality (http://www.geomapapp.org/tutorials/).
Virtual Ocean (http://www.virtualocean.org/) combines the functionality of GeoMapApp with a 3-D earth
browser built using the NASA WorldWind API for a powerful new data resource. MGDS education involvement
(http://www.marine-geo.org/, go to Education tab) includes the searchable Media Bank of images and video;
KML files for viewing several MGDS data sets in Google Earth (tm); support in developing undergraduate-
level teaching modules using NSF-MARGINS data. Examples of many of these data sets will be shown.
Bringing Geoscience Research into Undergraduate Education in the Classroom and Online
The growth of the cyberinfrastructure provides new opportunities for students and instructors to place data- driven, classroom and laboratory exercises in the context of an integrated research project. Undergraduate majors in a classroom section of the applied geophysics course at SJSU use Google Earth to first visualize the geomorphic expression of the Silver Creek fault in the foothills of the eastern Santa Clara Valley in order to identify key research questions regarding the northward projection of the fault beneath the valley floor, near downtown San Jose. The 3-D visualization, both regionally and locally, plays a key element in establishing the overall framework of the research. Students then plan a seismic hazards study in an urban environment, which is the primary focus of the class, using satellite imagery to locate specific stations along a geophysical transect crossing the inferred location of the fault. Geophysical modeling along the transect combines field-based data acquisition by members of the class with regional geophysical data, downloaded from an online USGS database. Students carry out all aspects of the research from project planning, to data acquisition and analysis, report writing, and an oral presentation of the results. In contrast, online courses present special challenges as students may become frustrated navigating complex user interfaces, sometimes employed in research-driven online databases, and not achieve the desired learning outcomes. Consequently, an alternate approach, implemented in an online oceanography course, is for the instructor to first extract research data from online databases, build visualizations, and then place the learning objects in the context of a virtual oceanographic research expedition. Several examples of this approach, to engage students in the experience of oceanographic research, will be presented, including seafloor mapping studies around the Golden Gate and across the major ocean basins, using data obtained in part through the use of the Marine Geoscience Data System and GeoMapApp. Students also locate and undertake submersible dives inside hydrothermal vents using visualizations provided by the OceanExplorer program and New Millennium Observatory of NOAA/PMEL. Other learning activities include participation, at least virtually, in an iron fertilization experiment in the Southern Ocean (SOFeX) and the development of a model of surface circulation using data from the Global Drifter Program and the National Data Buoy Center. One factor contributing to student learning is to establish a research context for the class early on, so that students become engaged in a sense of exploration, testing and discovery.
Inquiry-based instruction in an introductory science class facilitated by remotely operable instrumentation and extraterrestrial GIS
Remotely accessible data acquisition and management technologies can change the classroom from a passive place to one in which students model the behaviors of scientists through active investigation. As part of a NSF-CCLI funded project, I have re-cast an introductory natural science course as two half-term investigations: 1) The "discovery" of possible meteorites, involving the use of a remotely-operable SEM. Students work in teams to examine unknown rocks (often samples brought in by community members, but always including at least one real meteorite), documenting features consistent with an Earth or outer space origin. All samples are examined via scanning electron microscope to confirm mineral identifications and discover fine-scale textural relationships. The SEM (housed at FIU-FCAEM, in Miami, FL) is operated live in class, with in-class instruction on instrument use preceding sessions where student teams run their samples. Student response to this activity is strongly positive, and assessment of its impact on student learning of geoscience content is ongoing. 2) A study of Mars landforms and their evolution, using NASA Mars mission data resources, facilitated by a Martian GIS. Students are introduced to the imagery resources maintained by NASA for recent Mars missions (Global Surveyor, Odyssey, Viking, Pathfinder, Rovers), and to JMARS, a Martian GIS which permits overlaying of different mission datasets to facilitate targeted study of parts of the Martian surface. Students work through several exercises in landform study to get used to JMARS and become familiar with the different kinds of Mars imagery (photographic, altimetry, daytime vs. nighttime IR). The capstone is a study of the geologic and geomorphic history of a site on Mars selected by each student, using available NASA data resources, JMARS, and the literature. A challenge in conducting these activities, or like efforts using third- party data systems, is that students ultimately need independent computer access to proceed, and computer-related issues (like: a too-recent MS operating system update) can pose obstacles to progress.
The NASA Earth Observing System Higher-Education Alliance Curriculum Development Project at Middle Tennessee State University
During the last three years, geodata-rich undergraduate curricula were developed at Middle Tennessee
State University (MTSU) with major support from the NASA Earth Observing System Higher-Education
Alliance ("GeoBrain") and additional support from Tennessee Space Grant and the NSF StepMT program.
These curricula fall into three broad categories: (1) GIS-based curricula, (2) the free on-line textbook
"Physical Regions and Features of the United States," and (3) presentation graphics (primarily satellite
images) for faculty involved in teaching and research outside the United States. All three incorporate Earth
Observing System data as well as data from other public sources. Most data was obtained through the
GeoBrain data download website, the USGS Seamless Data Distribution System, or the National Atlas of the
United States website.
The three categories of curricula exemplify the diverse educational applications of satellite images and other
map data. The GIS-based curricula (1) are built around ESRI GIS software and include an asteroid impact
activity and a volcano activity. The free on-line textbook (2) provides a broad overview of the physical
features of the United States and is intended as a supplement for undergraduate geoscience courses.
Presentation graphics (3) have been created for faculty investigating Scottish archeology and
historical/cultural issues in Portugal and Morocco. The three categories represent three distinctly different
ways to use remotely-sensed data to improve undergraduate instruction.
Success in Outreach and Education Through a Partnership Approach Between Government and Grass Roots: The Yukon River Basin Water Quality Monitoring Program
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recently concluded a five-year water quality study (2001-2005) of the Yukon River and its major tributaries. One component of the study was to establish a water quality baseline providing a frame of reference to assess changes in the basin that may result from climate change. As the study neared its conclusion, the USGS began to foster a relationship with the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC). The YRITWC was in the process of building a steward-based Yukon River water quality program. Both the USGS and the YRITWC recognized the importance of collaboration resulting in mutual benefits. Through the guidance, expertise, and training provided by the USGS, YRITWC developed and implemented a basin-wide water quality program. The YRITWC program began in March, 2006 utilizing USGS protocols, techniques, and in-kind services. To date, more than 300 samplings and field measurements at more than 25 locations throughout the basin (twice the size of California) have been completed by more than 50 trained volunteers. The Yukon River Basin baseline water quality database has been extended from 5 to 8 years due to the efforts of the YRITWC-USGS collaboration. Basic field measurements include field pH, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen, and water temperature. Samples taken for laboratory analyses include major ions, dissolved organic carbon, greenhouse gases, nutrients, and stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen, and selected trace elements. Field replicates and blanks were introduced into the program in 2007 for quality assurance. Building toward a long-term dataset is critical to understanding the effects of climate change on river basins. Thus, relaying the importance of long-term water-quality databases is a main focus of the training workshops. Consistencies in data populations between the USGS 5-year database and the YRITWC 3-year database indicate protocols and procedures made a successful transition. This reflects the success of the YRITWC- USGS sponsored water-quality training workshops for water technicians representing more than 18 Tribal Councils and First Nations throughout the Yukon River Basin. The collaborative approach to outreach and education will be described along with discussion of future opportunities using this model.
Using a Web-based GIS to Teach Problem-based Science in High School and College
Foothill College has partnered with San Jose State University to bring GIS web mapping technology to the
high school and college classroom. The project consists of two parts. In the first part, Foothill and San Jose
State University have teamed up to offer classes on building and maintaining Web based Geographic
Information Systems (GIS). Web-based GIS such as Google Maps, MapQuest and Yahoo Maps have become
ubiquitous, and the skills to build and maintain these systems are in high demand from many employers.
In the second part of the project, high school students will be able to learn about Web GIS as a real world tool
used by scientists. The students in the Foothill College/San Jose State class will build their Web GIS using
scientific data related to the San Francisco/San Joaquin Delta region, with a focus on watersheds,
biodiversity and earthquake hazards.
This project includes high school level curriculum development that will tie in to No Child Left Behind and
National Curriculum Standards in both Science and Geography, and provide workshops for both pre-and in-
service teachers in the use of Web GIS-driven course material in the high school classroom. The project will
bring the work of professional scientists into any high school classroom with an internet connection; while
simultaneously providing workforce training in high demand technology based jobs.
The VIDA Framework as an Educational Tool: Leveraging Volcanology Data for Educational Purposes
In an effort to address existing gaps in the current method of collecting, processing, and disseminating information related to volcanic eruptions a new system framework has been developed. This framework, known as VAPOR Integrated Data-Sharing and Analysis (VIDA), also holds substantial educational potential. VIDA proposes a centralized clearinghouse for volcanology data which could support education at a variety of levels. Basic geophysical data could be used to educate school children about the characteristics of volcanoes, satellite mappings could support informed growth and development of societies in at-risk areas, and raw sensor data could contribute to a wide range of university-level research projects. While the basic intention of VIDA is to support disaster risk reduction efforts, this paper will propose several methods of leveraging raw science data to support education across a wide demographic.
Turning Equations Into Stories: Using "Equation Dictionaries" in an Introductory Geophysics Class
To students with math fear, equations can be intimidating and overwhelming. This discomfort is reflected in some of the frequent questions heard in introductory geophysics: "which equation should I use?" and "does T stand for travel time or period?" Questions such as these indicate that many students view equations as a series of variables and operators rather than as a representation of a physical process. To solve a problem they may simply look for an equation with the correct variables and assume that it meets their needs, rather than selecting an equation that represents the appropriate physical process. These issues can be addressed by encouraging students to think of equations as stories, and to describe them in prose. This is the goal of the Equation Dictionary project, used in Western Washington University's introductory geophysics course. Throughout the course, students create personal equation dictionaries, adding an entry each time an equation is introduced. Entries consist of (a) the equation itself, (b) a brief description of equation variables, (c) a prose description of the physical process described by the equation, and (d) any additional notes that help them understand the equation. Thus, rather than simply writing down the equations for the velocity of body waves, a student might write "The speed of a seismic body wave is controlled by the material properties of the medium through which it passes." In a study of gravity a student might note that the International Gravity Formula describes "the expected value of g at a given latitude, correcting for Earth's shape and rotation." In writing these definitions students learn that equations are simplified descriptions of physical processes, and that understanding the process is more useful than memorizing a sequence of variables. Dictionaries also serve as formula sheets for exams, which encourages students to write definitions that are meaningful to them, and to organize their thoughts clearly. Finally, instructor review of the dictionaries is an excellent way to identify student misconceptions and learn how well they understand derivations and lectures.
Using computer simulations to teach electrical and electromagnetic methods in applied geophysics
When teaching geophysics, it is useful to have models that students can investigate in order to develop intuition concerning the physical systems that they are learning about. In recent years, numerical modeling packages have emerged that are sufficiently easy to use that they are suitable for use in undergraduate classroom settings. In this submission, I will describe some examples of the use of computer simulations to enhance student learning in a course on applied geophysics. In some cases, the results of the simulations are compared with the results of analog experiments. Examples of the numerical calculations include simulations of the resistivity method and of the frequency-domain and the time-domain electromagnetic method. I will describe the numerical models used and there results and their effectiveness as a teaching aid.
The Spatial Thinking Process Where Edcuational Leadership Tranfers Skill into the Classroom
This poster will display the spatial thinking process in a manner that educational leadership can advocate its use in the classroom. Policy awareness is generated from this diagram that has national and state implications. Thus, the official classroom status of having spatial thinking included in the standard course of study may be the targeted benefit. Such educational change could now be framed and acted upon to create synergy and social capital to receive attention in future educational policy agendas. A North Carolina spatial thinking policy track will be display showed further rationale as to why the geosciences should be a part of the standard course of study. This may be repeated other states if such rationale is determined to be valid.
SPHERE Program: Engaging a diverse undergraduate student body in earth system science research
The SPHERE (Students as Professionals Helping Educators Research the Earth) has been a partnership
between 3 universities, 3 school divisions and NASA Langley Research Center. This ambitious program of
authentic earth system science research by undergraduate students from a variety of backgrounds has
successfully completed three summer cohorts of students and K-12 teachers. The small groups and small
size of the program set it aside from more insitutionalized projects such as Langley Aerospace Research
Summer Scholars (LARSS) and the intensive interactions are conducive to a different learning environment.
Description of the types of projects undertaken by the students will be supplemented by a discussion of
management techniques used over the three years of the project to adapt to the abilities, skill sets and
backgrounds of the students. The unique partnership between higher education and a research facility that
has evolved as a necessary condition of the success of the program will be described. Preliminary results
from the summative project evaluation will also be presented.
An Invitation to Kitchen Earth Sciences, an Example of MISO Soup Convection Experiment in Classroom
In recent frontiers of earth sciences such as computer simulations and large-scale observations/experiments involved researchers are usually remote from the targets and feel difficulty in having a sense of touching the phenomena in hands. This results in losing sympathy for natural phenomena particularly among young researchers, which we consider a serious problem. We believe the analog experiments such as the subjects of "kitchen earth sciences" proposed here can be a remedy for this. Analog experiments have been used as an important tool in various research fields of earth science, particularly in the fields of developing new ideas. The experiment by H. Ramberg by using silicone pate is famous for guiding concept of the mantle dynamics. The term, "analog" means something not directly related to the target of the research but in analogical sense parallel comparison is possible. The advantages of the analog experiments however seem to have been overwhelmed by rapid progresses of computer simulations. Although we still believe in the present-day meaning, recently we are recognizing another aspect of its significance. The essence of "kitchen earth science" as an analog experiment is to provide experimental setups and materials easily from the kitchen, by which everyone can start experiments and participate in the discussion without special preparations because of our daily-experienced matter. Here we will show one such example which can be used as a heuristic subject in the classrooms at introductory level of earth science as well as in lunch time break of advanced researchers. In heated miso soup the fluid motion can be easily traced by the motion of miso "particles". At highly heated state immiscible part of miso convects with aqueous fluid. At intermediate heating the miso part precipitates to form a sediment layer at the bottom. This layered structure is destroyed regularly by the instability caused by accumulated heat in the miso layer as a bursting. By showing interesting movie we will discuss characteristics of the bursting and possible implications in the understanding of layered system in the planetary interior in the style of lunch time discussion.
Undergraduates at Sea and in the Laboratory Conducting Habitat Mapping Using Multibeam and Sidescan Sonar
During the last five years, undergraduate students at the College of Charleston have had numerous
opportunities to take part in the college's Transect Program and sail aboard research vessels on 2-5 day
cruises to study the continental shelf. The program's purpose is to train students in oceanographic research
while developing a long-term information geodatabase to characterize and monitor essential fish habitats,
and to map seafloor geomorphology. During these cruises students take the lead to conduct a variety of
research investigations which include hydrographic surveys of the seafloor using sidescan sonar, multibeam
bathymetry, and video collected using a remotely operated vehicle and during SCUBA dives. Following the
data collection cruises, students have enrolled in semester-long research courses to analyze data and
document results through poster and oral presentations. More than 60 students have taken part in at least
one of 6 programs. In the past two years, the NOAA Ship NANCY FOSTER has provided invaluable sea time
to conduct multibeam surveys of the mid- and outer continental shelf off Charleston, so that the 22
participating Transect students have focused their work on seafloor mapping, and have become trained in
state-of-the art CARIS multibeam and sidescan sonar processing software. Most of these students have
presented their results at professional meetings, and manuscripts are currently in preparation.
Students have had numerous post-program opportunities to conduct further research at sea and in the lab.
They have collaborated with NOAA scientists and other investigators, conducting bathymetry data processing
and analysis from other regions. Most recently, two program graduates worked with University of
Washington investigators to map sites for the Ocean Observatory Initiative Regional Scale Nodes. Several
students have been contracted or hired as hydrographic survey technicians, while others have gone to
graduate school to continue their work using these invaluable skills learned as undergraduates.
Gaining a Better Understanding of Estuarine Circulation and Improving Data Visualization Skills Through a Hands-on Contouring Exercise
The creation and accurate interpretation of graphs is becoming a lost art among students. The availability of numerous graphing software programs makes the act of graphing data easy but does not necessarily aide students in interpreting complex visual data. This is especially true for contour maps; which have become a critical skill in the earth sciences and everyday life. In multiple classes, we have incorporated a large-scale, hands-on, contouring exercise of temperature, salinity, and density data collected in the Hudson River Estuary. The exercise allows students to learn first-hand how to plot, analyze, and present three dimensional data. As part of a day-long sampling expedition aboard an 80' research vessel, students deploy a water profiling instrument (Seabird CTD). Data are collected along a transect between the Verrazano and George Washington Bridges. The data are then processed and binned at 0.5 meter intervals. The processed data is then used during a later laboratory period for the contouring exercise. In class, students work in groups of 2 to 4 people and are provided with the data, a set of contouring instructions, a piece of large (3' x 3') graph paper, a ruler, and a set of colored markers. We then let the groups work together to determine the details of the graphs. Important steps along the way are talking to the students about X and Y scales, interpolation, and choices of contour intervals and colors. Frustration and bottlenecks are common at the beginning when students are unsure how to even begin with the raw data. At some point during the exercise, students start to understand the contour concept and each group usually produces a finished contour map in an hour or so. Interestingly, the groups take pride in the coloring portion of the contouring as it indicates successful interpretation of the data. The exercise concludes with each group presenting and discussing their contour plot. In almost every case, the hands-on graphing has improved the "students" visualization skills. Contouring has been incorporated into the River Summer (www.riversumer.org, http://www.riversumer.org/) program and our Environmental Measurements laboratory course. This has resulted in the exercise being utilized with undergraduates, high-school teachers, graduate students, and college faculty. We are in the process of making this curricular module available online to educators.
Results from the Biology Concept Inventory (BCI), and what they mean for biogeoscience literacy.
While researching the Biology Concept Inventory (BCI) we found that a wide class of student difficulties in genetics and molecular biology can be traced to deep-seated misconceptions about random processes and molecular interactions. Students believe that random processes are inefficient, while biological systems are very efficient, and are therefore quick to propose their own rational explanations for various processes (from diffusion to evolution). These rational explanations almost always make recourse to a driver (natural selection in genetics, or density gradients in molecular biology) with the process only taking place when the driver is present. The concept of underlying random processes that are taking place all the time giving rise to emergent behaviour is almost totally absent. Even students who have advanced or college physics, and can discuss diffusion correctly in that context, cannot make the transfer to biological processes. Furthermore, their understanding of molecular interactions is purely geometric, with a lock-and-key model (rather than an energy minimization model) that does not allow for the survival of slight variations of the "correct" molecule. Together with the dominant misconception about random processes, this results in a strong conceptual barrier in understanding evolutionary processes, and can frustrate the success of education programs.
Adapting a successful inquiry-based immersion program to create an Authentic, Hands- on, Field based Curriculum in Environmental Science at Barnard College
Adapting a successful inquiry-based immersion program to create an Authentic, Hands-on, Field based Curriculum in Environmental Science at Barnard College T. C. Kenna, S. Pfirman, B. J. Mailloux, M. Stute, R. Kelsey, and P. Bower By adapting a successful inquiry-based immersion program (SEA semester) to the typical college format of classes, we are improving the technical and quantitative skills of undergraduate women and minorities in environmental science and improving their critical thinking and problem-solving by exposing our students to open-ended real-world environmental issues. Our approach uses the Hudson River Estuary as a natural laboratory. In a series of hands-on inquiry-based activities, students use advanced equipment to collect data and samples. Each class session introduces new analytical and data analysis techniques. All classes have the connecting theme of the river. Working with real data is open-ended. Our major findings as indicated by surveys as well as journaling throughout the semester are that the field- based experience significantly contributed to student learning and engagement. Journaling responses indicated that nearly all students discussed the importance and excitement of an authentic research experience. Some students were frustrated with data irregularities, uncertainty in methods and data, and the general challenge of a curriculum with inherent ambiguity. The majority were satisfied with the aims of the course to provide an integrative experience. All students demonstrated transfer of learned skills. This project has had a significant impact on our undergraduate female students: several students have pursued senior thesis projects stemming from grant activities, stating that the field activities were the highlight of their semester. Some students love the experience and want more. Others decide that they want to pursue a different career. All learn how science is conducted and have a better foundation to understand concepts such as sampling, uncertainty, and variability, which are important to many fields. Many of the hands-on curricular activities have been adapted and used with a variety of student, teacher, and faculty groups. Faculty participants in our River Summer program (www.riversummer.org) see earth system science in a way that would be hard to replicate without the hands-on experience. Faculty participants are encouraged to adapt our activities to their own classroom. We are in the process of assembling many of our hands-on field-based activities as fully exportable curricular elements to further increase impacts.
The new Computational and Data Sciences Undergraduate Program at George Mason University
We present the new undergraduate program in Computational and Data Sciences at George Mason
University. The goals of the program are to train the next-generation scientists in the tools and techniques of
cyber-enabled science. New courses include Introduction to Computational and Data Sciences, Scientific
Data and Databases, Scientific Data and Information Visualization, Scientific Data Mining, and Scientific
Modeling and Simulation. This is an interdisciplinary program, drawing examples, classroom materials, and
student activities from a broad range of physical and biological sciences, including Space Physics (and
Space Weather), Solar Physics, Astronomy, Geosciences, Geoinformatics, Materials Science, Bioinformatics,
Chemistry, and Physics. We will describe some of the motivations and early results from the program.
Assessing Middle School and College Students' Conceptions About Wind, Fog, and Tornadoes
Meteorological content is presented in K-12 educational standards and in university general education courses, yet little research has been done to explore how students conceptualize weather phenomena. This investigation probes the understanding of students at three cognitive levelsó6th grade earth science students, university non-meteorology majors, and meteorology major studentsóof three meteorological phenomenaówind, fog, and tornadoes. All students were enrolled in schools in San Francisco, CA. The meteorological content chosen for this projectówind, fog, and tornadoesówas deliberate. Wind is a fundamental process on our planet, and has the potential to cause great damage. Students have direct experience with wind on a daily basis. Fog is a dominant feature of San Francisco climatology, and a familiar phenomenon to students living in our region. Tornadoes are associated with devastating winds and represent a destructive weather phenomenon that students only experience indirectly through movies representations and other media outlets. The phases consisted of (a) a fifteen-question survey, (b) written essay assessments, and (c) videotaped interviews. Phase I, a weather survey, was given to the entire population (65 middle school students, 50 university non-meteorology majors, and 10 university meteorology majors) and consisted of 10-15 challenge statements. Challenge statements assert a common misconception or truism and ask the students to rank their level of agreement on a 4-point Likert scale (strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree). Phase II presented the students a subset of statements and questions, and they were given 5 minutes to explain why they chose their response. To quantify the resulting qualitative data, the written essay assessments were scored using a developed conceptual rubric by multiple observers, using inter-observer reliability to measure agreement in scoring. The results from this phase helped to structure the interview protocol utilized in Phase III. A subset of the population was interviewed, allowing us to probe deeper into students' conceptions about weather. This three-phase approach allowed us to identify and explore misconceptions concerning wind, fog, and tornadoes. Preliminary results from phase I and II probing student conceptions of wind show that over 54% of 6th grade students do not see any connection between the sun and wind, offering instead that the moon, clouds, and the ocean are key contributors to wind development. 13% of students observe that because there is wind at night, and conclude from this that the sun could not play a role in creating wind. By identifying students' misconceptions about wind, fog, and tornadoes, scientists and educators can create more effective learning experiences that address student misconceptions, promote conceptual change, and move students toward a more scientific viewpoint.
Teaching the Principles of Geomicrobiology and the Process of Experimental Research
Geomicrobiology can be introduced at the undergraduate level using an Earth systems science approach. Such an approach emphasizes the shallow subsurface as coupled subsystems (lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere) where positive and negative feedbacks can be identified and as an interdisciplinary field, combines the tools and field approach of the geologist and ecologist with the rigorous experimental approach of the chemist and biologist. Geomicrobiology affords students the opportunity to acquire basic and applied knowledge and skills, which facilitates their intellectual development and training as future scientists. We developed a framework for a geomicrobiology course design that has produced impressive gains in students' contextual knowledge. Our approach centers on the design and execution of a research experiment for students to (a) increase their understanding and application of the scientific method, (b) practice experimental analysis of a complex system, and (c) develop topical knowledge in geomicrobiology. Thirteen students from two different institutions participated in the course. Each institution taught a concurrent section and had the students communicate during the semester via e-mail and teleconferences, introducing students to the culture of scientific presentation and peer review. This approach can be easily adapted to teach skills and topical material in other natural science and engineering programs.