UCAR Center for Science Education

Free family fun at Super Science Saturday: Nov. 4

BOULDER, Colo. — Come learn about our wild weather at this year’s Super Science Saturday on Nov. 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Mesa Lab in south Boulder.The free, family-oriented event will feature weather balloon launches and a storm-chasing vehicle. Shows by NCAR wizards will include simulations of lightning and fire tornadoes, a special version of a storm surge with an intrepid reporter on the scene, and a "lightning jellyfish."Local science organizations will be on hand with special activities throughout the building."Weather can be scary, but it's also exciting and fun," said Eileen Carpenter, a science education specialist at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), which manages NCAR. "The more you know about wild weather, the more you can enjoy it while staying safe."Free tickets for the scheduled shows or workshops are available at the door. Snacks and lunch items will be available for purchase in the cafe (cash only). Parking will be limited, so please consider carpooling.DetailsWhat: Super Science SaturdayWhen: Saturday, Nov. 4 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:  FreeA weather balloon launch at last year's Super Science Saturday (©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)

A Farewell to Teri Eastburn

Please join SciEd as we say farewell to Teri Eastburn after almost 16 years of dedicated service to UCAR and NCAR in education and outreach. Most recently, Teri led the development of UCARConnect. Prior to that, Teri led our school and public programs from the Mesa Lab for many years. We hope to see you in the Mesa Lab Damon Room on Wednesday, September 27, from 3:30 - 5:00 p.m. as we thank Teri for sharing the wonder of science with the public.

Come Join The Fun! Volunteer for Super Science Saturday! November 4th

Join the UCAR Center for Science Education (SciEd) for our Spectacular Super Science Saturday Event on Nov. 4th! This year's theme is "Wild Weather".

UCAR/NCAR/UCP staff help to make the event fun, meaningful, and informative by greeting the public, providing general information and engaging the public in simple science education activities. Please consider volunteering for one of the following shifts:
9:30 am – 1:00 pm
12:30 pm – 4:30 pm

Click on the link below to sign up to volunteer with us at this amazing event:

Chasing Coral - A Public Screening

Join with friends and neighbors as we view Chasing Coral, a film directed by Boulder's own Jeff Orlowski and produced by Larissa Rhodes at Production Labs. Jeff set out to tell the story of vanishing coral reefs around the world that are being threatened at an unprecedented rate. A team of divers, photographers and scientists set out to discover why and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world.

Nationally recognized internship program to reach more students than ever

July 26, 2017 | As a protégé in UCAR's SOARS program during 2003 and 2004, Deanna Hence learned the key skills that would take her through graduate school and beyond, from working with data sets to coping with increasing work demands. Now a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she credits her college internship in SOARS for her subsequent career success."I would say that SOARS is pretty much 100 percent responsible for me being where I am today," Hence said.SOARS, which stands for Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science, tends to get rave reviews from its nearly 200 alumni — about 80 percent of whom have gone on to graduate school and/or careers related to science or math. In just more than two decades, the research and mentoring program led by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) has helped cultivate a new and diverse generation of leaders in the geosciences.As part of its new five-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the program is now working to partner with SOARS alumni at universities and develop a network of satellite programs. This will enable the benefits of SOARS to reach more undergraduate students than the 20 or so who participate in each year's cohort, which includes summer research internships at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and other Boulder-area laboratories."We can only accept a limited number of students at NCAR, based on funding and the availability of scientists and engineers who can serve as mentors each year," said Rebecca Batchelor, the director of SOARS. "But now we have the ability to support many more deserving students with the help of our alumni network in the university community."Hence is among the first alumni who will build a SOARS satellite program. The program at the University of Illinois consists of a summer research internship that can be based in Illinois or divided between Illinois and NCAR. Protégés will receive additional support during the year, including guidance on giving presentations, collaborating on research projects, and writing resumes.SOARS protégé Jeremiah Piersante, an atmospheric sciences major at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, shows Deanna Hence results from his research into the diurnal cycle of hail occurrence. (Photo by Jeffrey Thayer.)On the Illinois campus, Hence is recruiting professors and other departmental staff to volunteer as mentors, and the program has begun to enroll the first protégés. This year, one SOARS protégé, Jeremiah Piersante, is spending part of the summer working at NCAR with scientists Sarah Tessendorf (also a SOARS alum) and Roy Rassmussen, and part on campus with Hence. Another protégé, Amy Chen, will begin her graduate research with Hence in the fall."I'm excited about expanding the reach of the SOARS model to our students at Illinois," Hence said. "We want to provide mentoring year round, so students will continue to get consistent support and become more integrated into the department culture."A success from its beginningsLaunched in 1996, SOARS quickly won nationwide attention for its innovative approach to supporting college students interested in atmospheric and related geosciences, especially those from communities underrepresented in the geosciences. In just its fifth year, the program won a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.Each protégé has a comprehensive support system that includes research mentors, a writing mentor, a computing mentor, a coach who helps the student navigate unfamiliar territory and stressful situations, and peer mentors. Protégés can participate in the year-round program, including summer internships, for up to four years, bridging the leap from undergraduate to graduate school.More than 120 alumni have earned a master's degree in science or engineering and 40 have earned Ph.D.s.This growing alumni network is powering efforts to reach a new generation of students. For example, Colorado State University's Department of Atmospheric Science has increased enrollment by students from underrepresented groups from 3.5 percent to 16 percent in the last decade, thanks partly to the efforts of a 2005 SOARS protégé, Melissa Burt, who is now the education and diversity manager for the department, as well as a research scientist. The department has taken a SOARS-like approach, with students working on lab research and field campaigns with university faculty mentors and getting early exposure to leadership training.UCAR's satellite initiative goes a step further, ultimately building a network of SOARS programs at universities, led by alumni who are now junior faculty. The NSF grant includes three pilot satellites located at the University of Illinois, the University of Central Florida (led by SOARS alum Talea Mayo), and a third university to be identified later.SOARS staff at UCAR will provide support that may range from helping a department develop career-building seminars on such topics as scientific writing and presentation skills, offering webinars on select issues, or supporting efforts to recruit prospective protégés and mentors."One of the most exciting aspects is we're at a point when we have SOARS protégés who are in leadership positions and now have the ability to bring students into their own institutions," Batchelor said. "So we have this multiplier effect, and that can have a tremendous impact on the next generation of geoscientists."PartnersUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUniversity of Central FloridaFunderNational Science FoundationWriterDavid Hosansky

Shaping a career in a week

June 9, 2017 | When Christina Speciale was majoring in meteorology at Rutgers University, she knew she wanted to pursue a career in some aspect of the atmospheric sciences. But she wasn't sure what to focus on until she attended the Undergraduate Leadership Workshop (ULW) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the summer before her senior year.At the weeklong event in 2010, she enjoyed making connections with meteorology students from other schools and hearing talks by leading NCAR scientists. Something in particular clicked when she saw a presentation by NCAR's Julie Demuth, a social scientist who does research into better communicating the uncertainty of weather forecasts to the public."That's a huge problem in our field," said Speciale, now a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y. "NCAR planted the seed for me on this issue, and to this day it's a big research interest of mine."Christina Speciale in front of the National Weather Service headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Photo courtesy Christina Speciale.)Speciale is one of about 270 undergraduates from across the country who have attended the ULW since its inception in 2002. Every year, the workshop connects students in the atmospheric and related sciences with scientists, engineers, educators, and top managers, exposing them to research areas and career options while training them in leadership and professional skills.So can a one-week workshop really make a difference to aspiring scientists? The answer is yes, according to a new study in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.A team of higher education experts with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), which manages NCAR on behalf of the National Science Foundation, conducted an anonymous survey of past participants to see if the weeklong workshop had been helpful. The participants overwhelmingly answered that it had."Even if you don't do a research internship, a one-week program can provide career awareness and increased engagement in science, along with a sense of belonging and long-term professional support," said Valerie Sloan, a higher education specialist at UCAR and lead author of the study. "It can be enormously helpful to a student embarking on a career in the sciences."Filling a gapNCAR launched the ULW program to help undergraduate students learn more about opportunities in the fields of atmospheric science and engineering. Studies have shown that many undergraduates don't have a full picture of career options, and not every student can land an internship or devote an entire summer to one in order to gain that knowledge.To fill this gap, the ULW introduces about 20 students, most of them juniors, to various types of research at NCAR, as well as to options for graduate schools and careers in weather and climate. The workshop includes sessions on leadership skills and professional development, such as working in teams and communicating clearly. The participants then share the information with other atmospheric science students at their schools.A total of 269 students from more than 70 universities have taken part.To assess the impact of the workshop on student careers and better understand which program elements have been most helpful, Sloan and her co-authors designed an online survey and brought together focus groups of former students.The survey, which had a response rate of 61 percent of those students for whom contact information was available, showed that the workshop had made a substantial impact on the participants. Some 98 percent of the survey respondents saw the program as a valuable or very valuable experience. In addition, 90 percent said the workshop "provided an experience that helped to prepare me professionally," 84 percent said it "increased my confidence in my ability to pursue my career," and 71 percent said it helped them "decide to go on to graduate school."At least 75 percent have jobs in the atmospheric sciences, working in academia, government agencies, or private and nonprofit organizations. Several alumni are weather forecasters. One reported working as a pilot in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Corps, and another as a bathymetric scientist in the Naval Oceanographic Office.The Undergraduate Leadership Workshop introduces students to various aspects of the atmospheric sciences, including the role of research aircraft such as the NSF/NCAR C-130. (©UCAR. Photo by Valerie Sloan. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.) For some alumni, one of the most important aspects of the program is building confidence. "For the first time since high school, I am not afraid of my future," said one recent workshop participant after hearing from several professionals about their often-indirect career paths.UCAR's Tim Barnes, an educational specialist who helped launch the workshop in 2002 and co-authored the new paper, said it has been gratifying to see how much it's helped aspiring scientists."One of the important aspects that we focus on is providing a safe space for the students to be vulnerable and ask questions – not just specific questions about science, but life questions as well," he said. "I think that's made a big difference. It's helped students think more about some major issues, like what's important to them and how they want their careers to unfold."The paper concludes that a short workshop, while not as enriching as a summer internship that offers hands-on research, can nonetheless confer significant benefits. The workshops are particularly helpful if they include career information, conversations with scientists, team-building activities, and communication and leadership activities, the authors found."Based on these findings, we hope that workshops of this scale may be considered at other research centers or in atmospheric science programs so that more students can benefit from this type of training and support," the paper concludes.Original alumnusThe results come as no surprise to an alumnus of the first workshop in 2002. Joel Gratz applied to the workshop because, even after meteorology internships at a TV station and a research lab, he wanted to get a view of the entire spectrum of job opportunities in the atmospheric sciences. The experience introduced him to new directions in the field as well as helping him weed out options that did not excite him.Gratz now runs his own weather company, OpenSnow.com, that issues weather forecasts and powder alerts for skiers and others looking for information about snow conditions across the northern hemisphere. He says the ULW and the American Meteorological Society's annual student conference are the two experiences, outside of the classroom, that were most useful and motivational during his undergraduate and graduate years."I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for these experiences," he said. "The ULW solidified my feeling that meteorology was the career for me while also identifying ways that I could impact the science."About the articleTitle: Long term Impacts of a Career Development Workshop for UndergraduatesAuthors: Valerie Sloan, Rebecca Haacker, Tim Barnes, and Carolyn BrinkworthJournal: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-15-00214.1WriterDavid Hosansky, Manager of Media Relations 

NCAR to host Air Quality Open House on May 3 in Boulder

BOULDER, Colo. — The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is marking Air Quality Awareness Week with a family-friendly open house at its Mesa Lab in southwest Boulder from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 3.A "brown cloud" of smog seen over Boulder, Colorado. (©UCAR. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)The free hands-on event will provide opportunities for visitors to learn about air pollution: what it is, how it's measured, what its impacts are, and how it's regulated. Visitors are encouraged to come with questions, and scientists will be on hand to provide answers, about air quality in general and Colorado's Front Range in particular."This will be everything you ever wanted to know about air quality," said Eileen Carpenter, an education specialist at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), which manages NCAR. "We've partnered with organizations from around the region to bring together experts on a diverse range of air quality topics, from monitoring pollution from space to monitoring methane leaks from oil and gas operations right here on the Front Range."Partner organizations include the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Regional Air Quality Council, GO3–Global Ozone Project, the University of Colorado Environmental Engineering Program, the National Park Service, Ball Aerospace, Boulder County Public Health, and NASA.Activities will include learning how plants react to smog in NCAR's "ozone garden," exploring a mobile air monitoring lab, and participating in experiments designed to help kids understand how air pollution works. Some organizations will also be displaying the instruments they use to measure air quality, and NCAR will host an ask-a-scientist table.During the event, visitors can also check out the permanent air quality exhibit that was recently installed on the first floor of the Mesa Lab. The exhibit explains the different types of pollution — including ozone and particulates — and allows the viewer to interact with a live feed of air quality measurements taken from instruments on top of the Mesa Lab.What: NCAR Air Quality Open HouseWhere: Mesa Lab, 1850 Table Mesa Dr., Boulder, CO, 80305When: 5-8 p.m., Wednesday, May 3, 2017For more information, visit the event website. Writer:Laura Snider, Senior Science Writer and Public Information Officer

NCAR Air Quality Open House May 3, 5-8pm

In celebration of Air Quality Awareness week, NCAR is hosting an open house featuring information and family friendly activities about air quality. Please join us to learn from experts about air quality, how we measure and research it, and how it impacts humans, plants, and animals. NCAR’s new air quality exhibit will also be featured.

Public Participating in Scientific Research (PPSR) Roundtable Discussion

We are looking for project ideas that both advance NCAR|UCAR science and benefit K-12 students and the public. This week we are hosting discussions with interested NCAR researchers to help identify areas where non-scientists can get involved with research.

Join us for a Public Participating in Scientific Research (PPSR) Roundtable Discussion:

Join Us This Week for a Public Participating in Scientific Research (PPSR) Roundtable Discussion

We are looking for project ideas that both advance NCAR|UCAR science and benefit K-12 students and the public. This week we are hosting discussions with interested NCAR researchers to help identify areas where non-scientists can get involved with research.

Join us this week for a Public Participating in Scientific Research (PPSR) Roundtable Discussion:

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