‘Antarctic Climate Change Education through Meteorological Measurements at Schools (ACCEMMS)’.
The ACCEMMS project was created by Dr. Ryan Fogt to develop a sustaining educational and outreach component for Ohio University’s Scalia Laboratory for Atmospheric Analysis and the meteorology program at Ohio University as a whole. Focusing on Antarctic climate change education and inquiry-based learning the overarching objective of ACCEMMS is to increase awareness of Antarctic climate change and variability, particularly through middle school Earth Science education in southeast Ohio.
Due to its extreme weather and logistical challenges of accessibility, automatic weather stations play a more crucial role in understanding Antarctic weather and climate than they do anywhere else on the globe. While logistically impossible to send scores of students to Antarctica to experience its weather directly and see these weather stations first hand, it is possible to gain an understanding of how scientists understand and monitor Antarctic climate change through local, hands-on measurements via a similar network in southeast Ohio. Under the auspices of the ACCEMMS project, a micro-network of weather stations was (each about $4K) installed at six schools (see Fig. 1) within southeast Ohio:
1. Belpre High School, Belpre, Ohio
2. Morgan County Junior High School, McConnelsville, Ohio
3. North Adams High School, Seaman, Ohio
4. Paint Valley Middle School, Bainbridge, Ohio
5. Peebles High School, Peebles, Ohio
6. South Point Middle School, South Point, Ohio
These weather stations are fully automated, with data transmitted to the classroom wirelessly in real-time and published online through Weather Underground, allowing for students and the public alike to continually observe the local weather and, in the long-term, the climate at their school. Further, the data from each weather station are uploaded via FTP to the Scalia Laboratory for Atmospheric Analysis at Ohio University, where they are displayed on this project website. This allows access to the data not for only forecasters at this laboratory, but also for all of the schools participating in this project. In turn, each participant can also see data from other sites, facilitating the understanding of the importance of more than one source of data and visualization of regional variations in weather that may not have been previously appreciated. Each weather station is certified by the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program, allowing for global dissemination of the observed data and excellence in measurements through strict international protocols. Notably, southeast Ohio is the poorest meteorologically sampled region in Ohio; filling in these gaps with weather stations parallels how weather stations are deployed in Antarctica.
The core of the ACCEMMS project is inquiry-based learning. Inquiry is a student-centered teaching method defined as “using hands-on approaches to observe phenomena in the world, pose questions, develop models, gather and interpret data, or propose explanations to learn the content and processes of occurring phenomena” (NRC, 1996). With the technological resource of the on-site weather stations, students are able to pose questions as to why conditions changed rapidly, routinely analyze and interpret the data that characterize these changes, and through their own experience of the weather, better learn about the phenomena. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) stresses the need for the teaching of science through inquiry (AAAS 1991; 1993; 1998). Project-based and inquiry-based learning have been a growing trend in science and math education in the past two decades (Haney et al. 1996; Rogers and Abell, 2008). However, science and math teachers often find it difficult to implement inquiry in the classroom (Flick 1997). One reason is a lack of professional and technological support (Jones and Eick 2007). Since the 1990s, various technologies have been developed for inquiry-based learners, including those for visualizing data (Samson et al. 1994), modeling real world phenomena, and distance communication (Rock et al. 1997). The ACCEMMS project aims to better facilitate inquiry-based instruction by teachers in southeast Ohio by providing the technology and resources for this style of learning that would not otherwise be attainable due to the high costs of the weather stations. In Ohio’s Common Core State Standards in Science, units on ‘Observing and Predicting the Weather’ and ‘Earth’s Climatic Zones’ occur in grades 6-8, middle school Earth Science (ODE 2009). Thus, it is anticipated that enhancing the educational experience in these key areas will ultimately enhance the overall performance on competency exams.
To expand the students’ learning, the PI and an undergraduate student from Ohio University will return to each new school to give an educational presentation on Antarctic climate change. These follow up presentations will occur after a sufficient time of monitoring the weather at each site (at least 3 months) and will incorporate real-time measurements from Antarctica and their school, allowing students to make the connection between the measurements they have been making locally and the measurements made in Antarctica through which our understanding of Antarctic climate change arises. Beyond the project’s funding, the six schools will continue to be partners with Ohio University and the Scalia Laboratory.
While many great Antarctic-focused educational and outreach opportunities exist, very few are focused solely on informing the next generation of Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics (STEM) students about Antarctic climate change. Given that climate change is a highly publicized issue, and that important and rapid climate changes are occurring across Antarctica (Steig et al. 2009; O’Donnell et al. 2011), the ACCEMMS project fills in a missing gap (at least locally) in Antarctic education and outreach in a way that enables students to not only comprehend the science behind Antarctic climate change, but also uniquely engage them in the doing of similar science in the classroom.
References: AAAS, 1991: Project 2061: Science for all Americans. Washington, DC. 272 pp. AAAS, 1993: Benchmarks for science literacy. New York: Oxford University Press. 418 pp. AAAS, 1998: Blueprint for reform: Project 2061. New York: Oxford University Press. 320 pp. Flick, L. B., 1997: Focusing Research on Teaching Practices in Support of Inquiry. Paper