As scientific discovery becomes more data driven, there is a critical need to build a workforce with robust skills in working with data. Nowhere is the need to strengthen learning opportunities greater than in rural areas, where a majority of the nation’s school districts reside and where under-investment persists.
WeatherX is working to advance knowledge of strategies that can promote interest and skills in scientific data practices among middle school students in low-income rural areas. To do so, the project is developing and studying a set of learning experiences where students use large-scale weather data to investigate typical and extreme weather events on Mount Washington, New Hampshire, and in their rural communities. The weather data and climate data comes from EDC’s partner the Mount Washington Observatory, the only source of data on climate trends and climate change in the White Mountains.
With weather scientists and educators from the Mount Washington Observatory and partners from across the country—including climate educators, learning scientists, and technology developers—the WeatherX team is leading the following efforts:
- Develop and study curriculum materials that involve interactive data investigations of extreme weather events
- Work with middle school science and mathematics teachers in northern New Hampshire and Maine to develop and test the materials in rural classrooms
- Integrate and study the use of the Common Online Data Analysis Platform (CODAP) to support students’ data investigations
- Connect students with community members who are deeply knowledgeable about the local weather to strengthen the cultural relevance of students’ learning
- Build students’ understanding of and interest in science careers through video demonstrations and virtual live sessions with Mount Washington scientists who specialize in meteorology and climate science and collect climate data
- WeatherX has provided data-rich science learning experiences for 12 teachers and over 470 middle school students in low-income rural districts in northern New Hampshire and Maine.
- The project’s curriculum materials support the development of fundamental practices with large-scale scientific data for students around the country.
- Curriculum activities that connect students with community weather experts engage the broader community in students’ science learning.
- Through interactions with students, scientists at Mount Washington and beyond will learn how to make their work more accessible and of greater career interest to students.
Mt. Washington Observatory, University of Maine, University of Washington, Concord Consortium