Education & Training

Opening doors to a career in geoscience

March 8, 2017 | Michael Bell, recently honored as one of America's outstanding early-career scientists, took an unconventional path to becoming a top tropical cyclone researcher.Bell said he always had an interest in meteorology but the University of Florida, where he first attended, didn't have that major. "I started as a physics major, but I realized that high energy particle physics wasn't for me." So, because he had enjoyed his comparative religion classes, he wound up as a religion major.But since he already had taken many math and physics courses, it was relatively straightforward to go back to school and pursue a second bachelor's in mathematics and meteorology at Metropolitan State College (now Metropolitan State University) in Denver. There he had a professor, Anthony Rockwood, who had worked at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and encouraged Bell to apply for a student assistantship.Michael Montgomery, Michael Bell, and Wen-Chau Lee (left to right) during the THORPEX Pacific Asian Regional Campaign in Guam in 2008. Lee was Bell's mentor at NCAR and Montgomery, of the Naval Postgraduate School, was Bell's Ph.D. adviser. (Photo courtesy Wen-Chau Lee, NCAR.)The cliché is that the rest is history, and it fits in this case. Bell was so successful as a student assistant that he would spend another decade at NCAR before leaving for academia. In December 2016, President Obama honored Bell as one of America's outstanding early-career scientists. The Office of Naval Research nominated Bell for the award in recognition of his hurricane and typhoon research, much of which was done for the Navy."This is a career highlight for me, " Bell, wrote in an email to his mentor Wen-Chau Lee, an NCAR senior scientist, shortly after being notified of the honor. "I owe you a debt of gratitude for all of the opportunities you have provided me over the years.""NCAR taught me to think critically about data quality and the assumptions that go into data," Bell, now an associate professor at Colorado State University, said in a recent interview. "The field projects (which included flying close to hurricanes) taught me the importance of careful planning and execution, so when the weather you want to study occurs, you're ready to take advantage of it."Bell's enthusiasm and desire to learn impressed the NCAR hiring team, Lee recalled. "He said, 'I want this, I think I can do it.'""I have to invest a lot of time to train a student assistant," Lee said, "so I wasn't looking for a candidate with a ton of programming experiences who would stay a year and leave. I was looking for someone who could assist me over the relatively long term, and I had a feeling that Michael could do it."During his stint at NCAR, Bell was part of at least a half-dozen field campaigns, including RAINEX (Hurricane Rainband and Intensity Change Experiment) in 2005, and T-PARC (THORPEX Pacific Asian Regional Campaign) in 2008. He served as a principal investigator for PREDICT (Pre-Depression Investigation of Cloud Systems in the Tropics), which examined hurricane formation.Lee, Bell, and Paul Harasti of the Naval Research Laboratory also co-developed a tool called VORTRAC (Vortex Objective Radar Tracking and Circulation) that enabled hurricane specialists for the first time to continually monitor central pressure as a fast-changing storm nears land.A rich tradition of mentoringThe National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research have a tradition of helping develop the next generation of scientists.In fiscal 2016 alone, there were more than 400 examples of NCAR and UCAR scientists and engineers working with student-scientists on activities such as mentoring, advising, thesis review, and teaching."There's no shortage of channels available to get great students from prestigious organizations, but the kind of informal programs like student assistantships show how NCAR opens the door for people who otherwise wouldn't get the opportunity," said Senior Scientist Wen-Chau Lee of NCAR's Earth Observing Laboratory.There are also several formal examples, including SOARS (Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research & Science), a UCAR program begun more than two decades ago to broaden participation in atmospheric sciences. In fiscal year 2016, about 65 student protégés either participated in SOARS internships or were supported through webinars and career advising.With mentoring opportunities from undergraduate internships through postdoctoral fellowships, NCAR|UCAR student-scientists have gone on to successful careers in government labs, academia, and the private sector, and many have taken on leadership roles. In the SOARS program alone, more than 100 students have earned a master's degree in science or engineering to date, and three dozen have gone on to get their Ph.D.s.While working at NCAR, Bell earned a master's degree in atmospheric science from Colorado State University and a Ph.D. in meteorology from the Naval Postgraduate School. The Education Assistance program of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research paid tuition for his master's degree. (UCAR manages NCAR with sponsorship by the National Science Foundation.)"Michael always took advantage of the opportunities provided to him," Lee said. "There's an old saying of Confucius that to be a mentor or teacher is like being a big bell. The harder a student hits the bell, the greater the sound. If a student is eager to learn, I will put forward more from my end to challenge them."Graduate students at the University of Hawaii received radar training from Wen-Chau Lee (NCAR, far left) and Michael Bell (University of Hawaii, back row, second from left) in 2013 during an educational deployment of a Doppler on Wheels radar system that was sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Lee's participation was supported by the UCAR UVisit program. (Photo courtesy Wen-Chau Lee, NCAR.)Recalling Bell's early years, NCAR scientist Bob Rilling said: "Michael had a real curiosity and an analytical approach to problems. You could see his wheels turning. He wanted to make things work."The relationship between NCAR and Bell continued long after he moved on in his career.For example, in 2013, Bell invited Lee to the University of Hawaii as part of a UVisit program administered by UCAR. Lee gave lectures to Bell's radar class and helped Bell train graduate students during a Doppler on Wheels educational deployment as part of the Hawaiian Educational Radar Opportunity, a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation.Lee in turn asked Bell to become the principal investigator on a new project called the Lidar Radar Open Software Environment, or LROSE.LROSE aims to develop a unified open source software tool to handle the copious quantities of atmospheric data produced by radars and lidars. The collaboration won a competitive grant from the National Science Foundation Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation program, and a community workshop is planned for April at NCAR.Summing up NCAR's role in his professional life, Bell said, "I worked with a lot of good people, like Wen-Chau, and they really helped launch me into my current career."Writer/ContactJeff Smith, Science Writer and Public Information Officer  

New apps set atmospheric data spinning in 3D

Feburary 6, 2017 | Students of microbiology can grow bacteria in petri dishes to better understand their subject. Paleontology students have fossils, and chemistry students have beakers bubbling with reactions. But students of the atmospheric and related sciences are often left with something much less tangible: data, and lots of it.The Meteo AR app uses augmented-reality techniquest to make atmospheric science data more accessible to the public. (©UCAR. This animation is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)Datasets in the atmospheric sciences cover everything from observations made by weather balloons to satellite measurements of cloud cover to output from climate model runs.Now the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is helping make those data less abstract and more concrete  — a little closer to a rock sample and a little further from a computer file. The result is two apps: one using virtual-reality and one using augmented-reality techniques to create 3D visualizations of datasets on a globe that students can move around and view from different perspectives. Meteo VR (Virtual Reality) and Meteo AR (Augmented Reality) are available for use on iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. They were developed by NCAR's Computational and Information Systems Lab (CISL)."The goal is to make our data more accessible to the public, especially to students," said Tim Scheitlin, a senior software engineer at CISL's Visualization Lab. "We think it's a fun way to start a dialogue about atmospheric science. If people can get excited about using the app, then maybe they'll start asking questions that will lead to a deeper understanding."The 'wow' factor and beyondThe Meteo AR app takes advantage of the camera on a personal device. When the camera's pointed at an image from a visualization — of sea surface temperature anomalies during an El Niño, or of the inner workings of a hurricane, for example — the visualization pops up onto a 3D globe that can be spun around with a finger.The Meteo VR app requires a virtual reality headset, such as Google Cardboard, and allows the user to "fly around" the globe to look at the projected dataset from any angle.Development of the two apps was led by Nihanth Cherukuru, a doctoral student at Arizona State University. He came to NCAR last summer as part of CISL's Summer Internships in Parallel Computational Science (SIParCS) program, which strives "to make a long-term, positive impact on the quality and diversity of the workforce needed to use and operate 21st century supercomputers."Cherukuru said one of the challenges of the project was to wrestle the vast amounts of data into a format that wouldn’t crash a handheld device. "Mobile phones are tiny devices and the atmospheric data can be really huge," Cherukuru said. "We needed to take that data and trim it down. We created a single image for each timestamp and then we made animations to reduce the computational burden on the phones."While Cherukuru has returned to Arizona State after his SIParCS internship, he is still working with the Visualization Lab. The goal is to expand the apps' capabilities, perhaps, for example, by having users click on parts of the data to get more information."There's kind of a 'wow' factor you get when you first use the app," Scheitlin said. "Our goal is to get past that and make it as educational as we can." Download the appsMeteo AR:For iPhone or iPadFor AndroidMeteo VR:For iPhone or iPadFor Android Writer/contact:Laura Snider, senior science writer

A favorable forecast for Kenyan students

November 30, 2016 | As scientists expand a program to provide critically needed weather observations in developing countries, they are forging a partnership with local schoolchildren and their teachers.The students and teachers are helping to oversee and maintain innovative weather stations, built largely with 3D-printed parts, at four schools in Kenya. By transmitting information about temperature, rainfall, and other weather parameters, the stations can help alert communities to floods and other potential disasters, as well as provide improved weather forecasts to local farmers, who are deciding when to plant and fertilize crops.NCAR scientist Paul Kucera describes the various components of the 3D-PAWS at the Sirua Aulo Maasai High School. (©UCAR. Photo by Kristin Wegner. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.) The weather stations, known as 3D-PAWS (for 3D-Printed Automated Weather Stations), are built with components that can be easily replaced if they wear out in the field. They were designed by weather experts at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and its managing entity, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)."In my 30 years of doing fieldwork, this is one of the best deployments I've ever had," said NCAR scientist Paul Kucera. "At every school, we were joined by hundreds of students and dozens of teachers who wanted to learn more about the weather stations and the value of these forecasts."The weather stations were installed as a partnership with the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program, an international science and education initiative that encompasses tens of thousands of schools. This approach means that 3D-PAWS serves the dual purpose of educating students and improving forecasts."This is a great partnership to now extend our weather stations to schools," said Kristin Wegner, a project manager with the GLOBE Implementation Office, based at UCAR. "There is so much enthusiasm among the teachers and students because it's such a great learning tool as well as helping their communities."Students will learn about local weather and climate by comparing their weather observations to those taken at other schools using science protocols established by GLOBE. They can also assess the impacts of climate change on society and the environment, as well as see how the observations help with farming, flood prediction, and other applications.The installments took place during GLOBE's biannual Lake Victoria Learning Expedition, in which students and scientists from around the world explore the environment around the lake and discuss potential research collaborations. The expedition was coordinated by GLOBE Africa Regional Coordinator Mark Brettenny and  GLOBE Kenya Assistant Country Coordinator Charles Mwangi. Schools also received equipment donated from Youth Learning as Citizen Environmental Scientists.Needed: more stationsLike many developing countries, Kenya does not have detailed forecasts, partly because weather stations are scarce. The density of stations in Africa is eight times lower than recommended by the World Meteorological Organization. Building out a network can be prohibitively expensive, with a single commercial weather station often costing $10,000 to $20,000, plus ongoing funding for maintenance and replacing worn-out parts.To fill this need, UCAR and NCAR scientists have worked for years to come up with a weather station that is inexpensive and easy to fix and can be adapted to the needs of the host country. The resulting 3D-PAWS are constructed out of plastic parts that are custom designed and can be run off a 3D printer, along with off-the-shelf sensors and a basic, credit card-sized computer developed for schoolchildren.The total cost is about $300 per station. As the stations age, the host country can easily have replacement parts printed.Funding for the project comes from the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the U.S. National Weather Service.Scientists installed the 3D-PAWS in Zambia earlier this year. Kenya is the second country to receive them."We're looking forward to installing more stations," Wegner said. "Additional schools are already asking about them."FundersU.S. Agency for International Development's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance U.S. National Weather Service.PartnerGlobal Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE)Writer/contact:David Hosansky, Manager of Media Relations

Applying indigenous and Western knowledge to environmental research

November 3, 2016 | Native American researchers, students, and community members will partner with Western science organizations to help shape mutually beneficial research projects as part of a two-year National Science Foundation grant awarded recently to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. UCAR manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) under sponsorship by NSF.The project marks a milestone in collaborations between NCAR|UCAR and Native American partners to increase the presence of indigenous perspectives and participants in geoscience research. It also comes at a time when indigenous people are among the hardest-hit by climate change, with several communities forming America's first wave of climate refugees.Aimed at building research partnerships between Native American and Western scientists, the NCAR|UCAR project has two supporting goals: broadening career paths for Native American students interested in Earth system science, and increasing the cultural sensitivity of Western scientists. Other partners in the project include the NCAR-based Rising Voices program, Haskell Indian Nations University, the University of Arizona's Biosphere 2, Michigan State University, and the GLOBE citizen science program conducted by the UCAR-based Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment."It's an exciting opportunity for both young indigenous scientists and scientists at NCAR and Biosphere 2," said Carolyn Brinkworth, NCAR director of Diversity, Education, and Outreach, and principal investigator of the project. "It's also a very different way of thinking about the science - truly integrating indigenous and traditional Western practices to benefit all of our partners."For example, she noted, indigenous communities can contribute important information about climate change by bringing generations of knowledge and experience with resource management and environmental and ecological processes.Students attending the Rising Voices workshop in Waimea, Hawaii, in 2016, visited a food garden planted according to traditional Hawaiian techniques to learn about climate change and phenology – the study of the seasonality of plants and animals. (Photo courtesy Craig Elevitch.)The pilot project is one of 37 awarded nationwide as part of a new NSF program called INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science). The program aspires to make careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) more accessible to underserved populations.Two students from tribal colleges and universities will be selected to become interns in UCAR's SOARS program (Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science). The students will join research teams comprised of mentors from NCAR, Biosphere 2, and their home communities to co-develop their research projects.One of the project partners, the four-year-old Rising Voices program, has brought social and physical scientists and engineers together with Native American community members to build bonds that lead to research collaboration."The INCLUDES project will actualize many topics we've been talking about in Rising Voices," said Heather Lazrus, an NCAR environmental anthropologist and Rising Voices co-founder. "The project will create a pathway for the students to become engaged in atmospheric sciences at a young age through a citizen science component, and then help keep them engaged for the long haul.”The GLOBE citizen science component will help the SOARS students reach out to their communities through a number of activities, especially with middle- and high-school students. The project also will connect community youth with undergraduate programs at Haskell and the University of Arizona.As it does for all its interns, SOARS will provide multiple mentors to help the Native American students develop their research, computer modeling, scientific communication, and professional skills.SOARS Director Rebecca Haacker said the internship program has brought in students from Haskell before. “But this will enable us to expand our relationship with indigenous students, and it's nice to see the student internships being part of this larger effort.”The mentors will be supported with cultural training by Michigan State University professor Kyle Powys Whyte, who is also a member of Rising Voices. "We don't want a situation of Western scientists working with Native Americans without any preparation," Brinkworth said. "We want the Western scientists to be introduced to the students' culture, their ways of thinking, their ways of working."The plan is for two SOARS interns to be selected by early 2017 and participate in research projects over the summer. In a second phase, NSF plans to bring together all the pilot projects two years from now with the goal of building out a comprehensive “Alliance” program.Brinkworth said that when she saw the request for proposals, she thought NCAR was uniquely positioned, in part because of Rising Voices, which has strengthened relationships among participating scientists and Native American communities.She hopes the new pilot project and the lessons to be learned will become a template for other efforts. "We are trying to produce a model for other Western scientific organizations that want to partner with indigenous scientists and communities," she said.Writer/contactJeff Smith, Science Writer and Public Information Officer 

Free family fun at Super Science Saturday: Nov. 5

BOULDER, Colo. — Come learn about our changing climate at this year’s Super Science Saturday on Nov. 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Mesa Lab in south Boulder.This year’s theme coincides with a major new climate exhibit at the Mesa Lab. Climate-related activities will include a presentation on ozone's effect on plants, a tree-ring activity demonstrating the living record of climate, a "flubber" glacier display by Boulder-based UNAVCO, and shows by NCAR Wizards that focus on changing temperatures.Astrophysicist Jeffrey Bennett, author of the climate books "The Wizard that Saved the World" and "I, Humanity," will share his stories.In addition, a number of other fun activities and experiments are on tap, including weather balloon launches, modular robotics, the CBS Denver Channel 4 mobile weather lab, Colorado State University's Little Shop of Physics, and more.Modular robotics was just one of the many activities at the 2015 Super Science Saturday. This year's event features hands-on climate and weather activities. (©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)"This year we wanted to highlight climate to reflect the outstanding updated interactive exhibit at our Mesa Lab," said Eileen Carpenter of the UCAR Center for Science Education. "But we also have our traditionally popular activities for children and entire families to enjoy as well." UCAR is the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, which provides education and research services and manages NCAR under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation.The multimedia climate displays on the second floor constitute what is believed to be the region’s largest permanent exhibit dedicated to climate change. One popular interactive exhibit, "Choose our Future," enables visitors to see how the choices they make, such as the type of car they drive, affect future temperatures. The information panels, touchscreens, audio recordings, and other activities highlight how our climate system works and the potential impacts of a changing climate on society and the environment.Activities at Super Science Saturday also will include learning about air movement by making devices to test in a wind tunnel, creating projects with solar-sensitive beads, face painting, and a pingpong ball launch.NCAR's High Altitude Observatory will display a solar telescope and provide information about the 2017 solar eclipse, and the NCAR 3D visualization laboratory will demonstrate some of its scientific animations.In addition to the Mesa Lab's science exhibits, a new tactile art exhibit will be open all day.  Snacks and lunch items will be available for purchase in the cafeteria.DETAILS:What: Super Science SaturdayWhen: Saturday, Nov. 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.Where: NCAR’s Mesa Lab, 1850 Table Mesa Drive, BoulderWho:  Activities for the entire family, with events especially focused on children ages 6 to 12.Cost:  FreeMore information: 2016 Super Science SaturdayWriter:Jeff Smith, Science Writer and Public Information Officer 

NCAR to open multimedia exhibit on climate change

BOULDER – The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) next month is unveiling a major new exhibit about climate change. The multimedia displays at NCAR’s Mesa Lab will constitute what is believed to be the region’s largest permanent exhibit dedicated to climate change.  It will highlight the workings of our climate system, how scientists study it, and the potential impacts of warming temperatures and altered precipitation patterns on society and the environment. “Our goal is to provide the public with an engaging and scientifically accurate forum to learn about climate change, which is perhaps the signature environmental challenge of our time,” said Becca Hatheway, exhibits manager at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, which manages NCAR. The touchscreens, audio recordings, activities, and artistically designed panels will entirely replace a more text-oriented exhibit that dated from 2003. This artist's rendition highlights part of the climate exhibit. The first section of the exhibit (right) provides an overview of Earth's climate system. The interactive display (left) allows visitors to explore how future levels of greenhouse gas emissions will affect heat waves. (Illustration by Condit Exhibits.) Although climate change can be a grim subject, the exhibit also aims to leave visitors with a sense of hope. It includes a major section that helps guide visitors through choices they can make, such as consuming less electricity or gas, which can have implications for climate change.  “We don’t want visitors leaving the exhibit feeling nothing but doom and gloom,” Hatheway said. The exhibit, housed in NCAR’s landmark Mesa Lab in south Boulder, will be free to the public. The Mesa Lab draws about 100,000 visitors a year to its exhibits on weather, the Sun, supercomputing, and other topics related to the atmospheric sciences. From climate basics to choosing our future The exhibit will be divided into five sections, each designed with input from NCAR scientists. The sections provide an overview of our climate system, the influence of greenhouse gases, the techniques that scientists use to study climate, the impacts of climate change on society and ecosystems, and strategies for reducing our carbon footprint and adapting to a changing climate. One of the highlights is an interactive exhibit called “Shifting the Weather Odds.” Using balls that drop into different slots, visitors will be able to see how higher emissions of greenhouse gases will lead to extreme heat waves occurring more frequently. Another interactive exhibit, “Choose our Future,” will enable visitors to select activities such as the use of lower-carbon building materials and see how that would affect global temperatures by century’s end. In addition, the exhibit will feature a touchscreen with “Community Stories”—recordings of people across the country sharing observations about local climate change and what they're doing about it. Visitors eventually will be able to upload their own stories. “It’s really important to have these first-person accounts,” Hatheway said. “Climate change is something that affects all of us in different ways.” Exhibits manager Becca Hatheway examines new climate displays.(©UCAR. Photo by David Hosansky. This photo is freely available for media & nonprofit use.) Condit Exhibits is building and installing the exhibit. NCAR Senior Scientist Jeffrey Kiehl, who provided guidance during the planning process, said the exhibit can help adults and children alike learn more about climate change. “This is a wonderful project," he said. "It not only conveys the scientific seriousness of climate change, but perhaps more importantly shows some of the ways we can take on the challenge of addressing the issue.” Explore climate online Climate Learning Zone (UCAR Center for Science Education)

Lighting it up for Super Science Saturday

BOULDER— Families, teachers, and the general public are invited to learn all sorts of fun and educational aspects about light at this year’s Super Science Saturday. The free event will be held on Saturday, Nov. 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Mesa Lab in south Boulder. "We chose light as our theme this year, since 2015 is the International Year of Light," said Eileen Carpenter of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research's Center for Science Education (SciEd). "There's a lot of research going on about light all over the world, and we will have special demonstrations, activities, and experiments focusing on that exciting topic." The event also will include a host of other science activities for the entire family. A budding scientist participates in an experiment at a previous Super Science Saturday. (©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.) Super Science Saturday is geared toward all ages, with activities especially tailored to children 6 to 12 years old, Carpenter said. Light touches society in many ways, through communications, entertainment, culture and, of course, science. NCAR Wizards, as well as scientists with NCAR's High Altitude Observatory and SciEd staff, will present special light shows and demonstrations. Colorado State University's Little Shop of Physics will bring many engaging experiments including ones that glow in the dark. Other highlights will include hands-on activity tables (such as creating projects with solar-sensitive beads), modular robotics workshops, a Doppler weather radar on wheels, and a ping pong ball launch. Face painting also will be offered. Additional organizations involved in the events include Front Range Community College, the Center for Severe Weather Research, Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center, Maker Bolder, the National Center for Interactive Learning, Vaisala, Ocean Classrooms, and The Arctic Arts Project. The Mesa Lab's exhibits and art galleries will be open all day. Snacks and lunch items will be available for purchase in the cafeteria. The Nasal Ridge Pickers bluegrass band will play in the Mesa Lab library twice during the day. DETAILS:  What: Super Science Saturday When: Saturday, Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Where: NCAR's Mesa Lab, 1850 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder (map)      Who: Activities for the entire family, with events especially focused on children ages 6 to 12. Cost: Free  More information: 2015 Super Science Saturday

GLOBE Program Marks 20 Years of Global Earth Science Education

BOULDER—NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) join with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) on Earth Day today to celebrate 20 years of international cooperation and collaboration to engage students, scientists, and teachers in 114 countries in the scientific exploration of Earth’s environments and climate. The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) science and education program, created on Earth Day in 1995, connects students, teachers, and professional and citizen scientists with opportunities to participate in science data collection by conducting real, hands-on science in their local communities. GLOBE students test water salinity at a tide pool off the Cape of Good Hope, at the 2008 GLOBE Learning Expedition in South Africa. (Photo by Janet Heiderer, UCAR.) “NASA has been one of the proud sponsors of GLOBE since its inception, and we’re pleased to be a part of a program that helps inspire future leaders and adds to knowledge of our planet,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “GLOBE provides students and the public worldwide with the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the global environment and climate. The program not only engages students in learning about their local environment, it also empowers them to play an active role in adding to global data about our home planet.” "GLOBE's database contains more than 100 million environmental measurements collected by students around the world," said Tony Murphy, director of the NASA-sponsored GLOBE Implementation Office at UCAR. "The data collected by GLOBE students are used in students’ own scientific investigations and may also be used by the larger GLOBE community and scientists in research." This week, schools around the world are observing the program’s 20th anniversary and Earth Day with special science activities, including a data entry challenge to collect extensive Earth science data via a new mobile app. "The National Science Foundation knows the importance of training more students in the STEM fields," said France Córdova, director of the NSF in Arlington, Virginia. "We are excited and delighted at how GLOBE stimulates curiosity, sparks interest in STEM careers, and above all, inspires in so very many students a love of science that will last a lifetime." GLOBE program activities, developed by the scientific community and validated by teachers, focus on Earth science topics with research-quality methods. The interdisciplinary activities support current learning standards and yield data that are used by working scientists. Getting students involved in the project-based investigations encourages them to make connections between their local environment and the entire Earth system, providing a global perspective. Supported by the U.S. Department of State and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, GLOBE also provides a platform for conducting NSF-sponsored STEM education research on new models for professional development of STEM educators and career technical education. Many GLOBE partners are sponsoring local activities to mark the anniversary. Students in Colorado are collecting soil, vegetation, water chemistry and stream flow data from Rocky Mountain National Park. West Virginia students are joining NASA’s Earth Day celebration at Washington’s Union Station on April 21-22 to present their hydrology research results from Four Pole Creek in Huntington, West Virginia. Participants in Thailand will conduct a workshop on using GLOBE research to understand and decrease mosquito populations. Learn more about GLOBE as NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Jr., National Science Foundation Director France Córdova, and GLOBE Implementation Office Director Tony Murphy of UCAR take you on a guided tour. Born on Earth Day 1995, the GLOBE Program suppports a worldwide community of students, teachers, and scientists collaborating to learn about our planet. (©UCAR. Produced by the GLOBE Implementation Office.)   Data on soil moisture and temperature being collected by GLOBE participants are contributing to the validation of the new space-based measurements from NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission. The GLOBE program soon will expand its reach with the launch of new tools such as apps for observing clouds, land cover, water color, and surface albedo to engage life-long learners worldwide in environmental and climate science. NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives, and safeguard our future. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.  

UCAR named a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate

BOULDER ­­— The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), which provides unique exhibits on weather and climate, has been accepted to join a leading group of national museum and cultural organizations as an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. The affiliation establishes a long-term collaborative partnership between the two institutions. UCAR’s exhibits in the Mesa Lab of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder are a destination for thousands of tourists and school children each year. As an Affiliate, UCAR will have access to Smithsonian resources such as its collections of 138 million objects, artworks, and specimens; professional development opportunities; and membership benefits. UCAR and the Smithsonian Institution will also have the opportunity to develop important collaborations, such as collecting oral histories from communities that are being affected by climate change and developing traveling exhibits that will highlight weather, climate, and other aspects of the atmospheric sciences. Hands-on exhibits such as this one simulating clouds are a destination for thousands of tourists and school children who visit NCAR's Mesa Lab each year. UCAR, which curates the NCAR exhibits, has been accepted to join a leading group of national museum and cultural organizations as an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. (©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.) “We are deeply honored to become an Affiliate and gain the opportunity to collaborate with the exceptional talent and expertise within the Smithsonian Institution,” said UCAR president Thomas Bogdan. “We are very much looking forward to working together on high-quality programs and exhibits for the enrichment of the general public, learners, and educators.”“Smithsonian Affiliations represent the highest professional standards in education within the museum community,” said Emily CoBabe-Ammann, director of UCAR Community Programs, which oversees the organization’s exhibits. “To be able to bring that work and the support of the Smithsonian network to UCAR is a truly exciting step for us.”UCAR joins 199 museums and educational and cultural organizations in 44 states, Panama, and Puerto Rico that are in association with the Smithsonian.“The Smithsonian is very proud of its new affiliation with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research,” said Harold A. Closter, director of Smithsonian Affiliations. “We are delighted to begin this new partnership that builds on shared missions, a commitment to education, and scholarly exchange. We look forward to new collaborations that will continue to bring together the strengths of both organizations to benefit audiences, both locally and nationally, and provide the opportunity to underscore the importance of atmospheric research in our daily lives and in the years ahead.” About Smithsonian Affiliations Established in 1996, Smithsonian Affiliations is a national outreach program that develops long-term collaborative partnerships with museums, educational, and cultural organizations to enrich communities with Smithsonian resources. The long-term goal of Smithsonian Affiliations is to facilitate a two-way relationship among Affiliate organizations and the Smithsonian Institution to increase discovery and inspire lifelong learning in communities across America. More information about the Smithsonian Affiliations program and Affiliate activity is available at www.affiliations.si.edu.    

ISKME to manage National Science Digital Library

BOULDER -- Management of the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) is being transferred this month from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) to the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME). This agreement helps ensure the long-term sustainability of NSDL. The library provides high-quality, online educational resources with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Since its creation in 2000, the library has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and managed by UCAR. In 2011, reflecting developments in online technologies since the library's creation, NSF directed UCAR to develop and implement a new plan for the library’s sustainability. After a yearlong process, UCAR selected ISKME to manage the library and work with the educational community to ensure its continued viability and relevance. ISKME was selected in part because of its commitment to online learning and innovation, in addition to past success with a viable business model for open educational resources (OER). UCAR will remain an active partner in the library with representation on the NSDL advisory board throughout the transition period. "We are delighted at this outcome after a long and careful process," said Mary Marlino, director of NSDL and the NCAR Library. "ISKME is a great community resource with a viable business model for building services to support the use of open educational resources. We know they will carry on NSDL’s service to the educational community." "It is an honor and a privilege to be entrusted as the new stewards of NSDL," said Lisa Petrides, CEO of ISKME. "We are excited to join in partnership with this longstanding community dedicated to STEM education. ISKME welcomes the addition of NSDL into the OER Commons family of high-quality digital resources that are openly accessible to teachers and learners everywhere." "It is wonderful that the result of over fourteen years of work on NSDL by hundreds of projects and thousands of contributors is being carried forward by ISKME," said Dean Krafft, chief technology strategist at Cornell University Library and one of the original creators of the NSDL site. "I look forward to ISKME’s enhancement of NSDL's delivery of STEM educational resources to teachers and students in the years ahead." About NSDL NSF created NSDL in 2000 to improve access to high-quality online learning materials. The library, a leader in national efforts to improve STEM education, serves as both a repository for STEM educational content and a resource for technology solutions and tools to help STEP practitioner communities. In its first 10 years, NSDL awarded more than 250 grants in areas such as collections of digital contents, locating and using digital resources and tools, and maintaining organizational and technical infrastructures. It is now putting increasing focus on an educational services model that more effectively collaborates with the increasingly diverse communities that produce, consume, and customize digital learning content, thereby better supporting the needs of teachers, librarians, and students. About ISKME ISKME is an independent, education nonprofit, established in 2002, whose mission is to improve the practice of continuous learning, collaboration, and change in the education sector. Based in Silicon Valley’s Half Moon Bay, California, ISKME supports innovative teaching and learning practices throughout the globe, and it is well known for its pioneering open education initiatives. ISKME also assists policy makers, foundations, and education institutions in designing, assessing, and bringing continuous improvement to education policies, programs, and practice.

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