August 13, 2019

EDC and Mount Washington Observatory Awarded Federal Grant to Promote Data Science Education

WeatherX project will investigate extreme conditions on Mount Washington

WALTHAM, MASS | Education Development Center (EDC) in Waltham, MA, Mount Washington Observatory (MWO) in North Conway, NH, and additional partners have been awarded $1,196,000 in a three-year federal grant to promote data science education in rural middle schools in New Hampshire and Maine. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the new WeatherX project will help eighth-grade students learn scientific data analysis and modeling skills.

“Students today need to develop strong data literacy skills to be prepared for a big-data world,” said Gary MacDonald, current chairman of the trustees of the nonprofit MWO and a former school superintendent in the region. “Rural students often lag in opportunities to participate in rich science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning. The WeatherX project will help rural students in New Hampshire and Maine gain important data science skills by analyzing extreme weather events that have had a personal impact on themselves and their communities.”

In collaboration with a small group of eighth-grade science teachers in the Mount Washington region, the WeatherX project will design and test eight weeks of classroom materials. The materials will teach students how to analyze and develop scientific prediction models using meteorological data related to an extreme weather event on the summit of Mt. Washington, often called the “Home of the World’s Worst Weather.” Students will also study and model an extreme weather event that has occurred in their rural vicinity.

“We are excited to be collaborating with learning scientists, science educators, and expert technology developers from around the country,” said Josephine Louie, a senior research scientist at EDC and the project’s principal investigator. “We look forward to working with rural teachers, students, and community members in the Mount Washington region to generate curriculum materials that build on local knowledge.”

To conduct their analyses, students will use online data analysis and scientific modeling tools that have been developed for middle and high school students by project partners. They will also draw on decades of publicly available local and regional weather data collected by MWO and the National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI).

The WeatherX project will create opportunities for students to interact with and learn from MWO scientists, as well as explore ways in which scientists at MWO can engage with students through live video and other virtual channels to support data investigations and to provide deeper views into the lives of professional scientists.

Project partners include researchers and developers at the University of Maine, the University of Washington, and The Concord Consortium in California.

Education Development Center (EDC) is a global nonprofit that advances lasting solutions to improve education, promote health, and expand economic opportunity. Since 1958, EDC has been a leader in designing, implementing, and evaluating powerful and innovative programs in more than 80 countries around the world.

Mt. Washington Observatory (MWO) is a private, nonprofit, member-supported institution with a mission to advance understanding of the natural systems that create Earth’s weather and climate. It serves this mission by maintaining a weather station on the summit of Mount Washington, performing weather and climate research, conducting innovative science education programs, and interpreting the heritage of the Mount Washington region.