Precipitating Change

This project will design, develop, test, and revise instructional materials and technologies that create weather events on the scale of middle school classrooms. Students will experience models of severe weather events, allowing them to monitor live radar screens and use virtual rain and wind gauges to collect data as virtual thunderstorms pass through the classroom. They will also design models themselves, applying computational thinking skills as they create, evaluate, and combine forecast models and issue evacuation orders to nearby "towns."

Precipitating Change: Integrating Meteorology, Mathematics, and Computational Thinking will target a single central goal: to promote middle school students’ ability to apply integrated science, mathematics, and computational thinking practices and understandings in the context of weather and weather prediction. A novel, highly inquiry-based approach places students inside simulated weather phenomena and enables them to play the role of scientific experts. In this role, students will actively employ computational thinking practices and skills and science and mathematics understanding as they collect and analyze incoming data, run and refine weather models, and make and evaluate predictions—all within ongoing, quasi-real-time situations.

We will achieve this central goal through a series of objectives:

  • Design and develop a series of classroom investigations and instructional sequences that employ computational models and real-world data derived from past weather events.
  • Create related educational technology supports fostering student exploration of investigations in which students are immersed in the phenomena they are studying and can act as professionals to collect, interpret, and represent weather data.
  • Pilot the investigations in classrooms in two middle schools to test and improve the design of the instructional sequences, supporting technology, and classroom guidance.
  • Extend the use of the investigations to additional classrooms on the Northern Slope of Alaska, and make curricular changes necessary to ensure maximum generalization and usability across classrooms.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DRL-1640088. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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