I try to attend at least one science specific professional development event per year. Last year, I went to the McDonald Observatory in Texas to learn about telescopes and to gain new ideas about how to teach astronomy. This was a fantastic opportunity, I can’t recommend going (and living!) at an observatory with astronomers for a few days.
We started the workshop by creating climate posters in small groups. The student-directed groupings and mind mapping led to an open ended activity that could be beneficial at multiple points in any unit involving systems.
National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
We were able to explore the exhibits at NCAR. The climate exhibits reopened recently and focused on communicating ways to mitigate and adapt to climate change and what to expect in the years to come rather than consider climate change a topic of debate.
A few of the exhibits had areas where visitors could provide their input and ideas on climate and weather. A few of the climate solutions are shown in the images below.
Pictionary: The difference between weather words and climate words.
Weather words like snow or rain are easier to visualize, articulate, and communicate than climate words like mitigation or adaptation. Climate includes weather, but is not weather. Climate is hard to see, it is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
Extreme Weather and Attribution
One of my goals for this summer is sketchnoting. I am not expecting Sylvia Duckworth level sketchnotes, but I wanted to play around with the apps and tools required. I enjoyed being able to use different colors and a feeling of freedom to sketch within my notes. However, my choppy handwriting made these a little difficult to read. My third sketchnote on the Space Weather Predictions center turned out a bit better after I took off my iPad case.
These sessions on extreme were excellent. I learned so much about how to frame weather events in the context of climate change. Notably, that the severity of certain weather events (like Sandy) can be attributed to climate change (ex. warmer oceans) but that the entire event cannot be attributed to climate change. While I already understood many of the concepts in these sessions, the language and information provided by the experts improved my confidence in my ability to communicate these ideas to my students.
Focus on making the world a better place rather than peril.
Climate change is not the problem, but a symptom of a larger problem.
In spite of NOAA being so close to home, I had never visited before! I learned so much about the research into space and climate locally.
NOAA Climate Stewards Education Project
Looking for climate professional development and a learning community year round? Join the Climate Stewards and choose your level of involvement! You can either join the Education Community or the Climate Stewards Community. I joined the Education Community and may join the Climate Stewards Community later on.
Gaming to Communicate Science
I love the idea of games to explain or simulate scientific concepts, but they so often feel like a stretch. Randy Russell from NCAR introduced us to a variety of game resources.
My favorite discovery is a game about energy transfer between the layers of the atmosphere. I am excited by this game because it will be easy for students to add-to and edit this game to represent other concepts like the ozone layer, other layers of the atmosphere, or seasons. This will give my students space to create and be creative with a few parameters.
While this panorama isn’t the best quality, it shows the energy starting out in the Sun on the right and then being transferred to the upper and lower troposphere.
The Wonderful People
Lastly, this is our wonderful group of climate enthusiasts! A conference is only as good as the people who show up and are actively engaged, and this was a phenomenal group.
Do you have any recommendations for professional development in the summer?