Conference
Report

UniServe Science News Volume 14 November 1999










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Education: Weather, Ocean, Climate

Mick Pope
Meteorologist, Bureau of Meteorology

From July 5th to July 9th the Fifth International Conference on School and Popular Meteorological and Oceanographic Education was held, organised by the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society and the Cooperative Research Centre for Southern Hemisphere Meteorology.

Unlike most conferences, this was held in two locations, with two days at the University of Ballarat and two days at Glen Waverley Secondary College. A day of tours was also held in between, to the Bureau of Meteorology's head office and to the Marine Discovery Centre at Queenscliff (http://avoca.vicnet.net.au/~vims/welcome.htm). The Centre is an extremely impressive hands-on facility which caters for school and university groups as well as the general public - constructivism at work!

Like all conferences, it was an excellent time to hear about the wonderful things that everyone else is doing, and talk about possible exchanging of resources and collaborating. The conference was well attended by educators and meteorologists from around the world. Topics included education for primary and high school students, public perception, use of the World Wide Web, teacher training, pedagogical (teaching) strategies and the use of CAL. The main points to come from the conference were:

  • it is important that meteorology, oceanography and climate be taught in the school system;
  • these subjects must be aimed at current curricula and be multi-disciplinary;
  • greater efforts must be made to communicate with and inform the public so that they can make best use of meteorological, climatological and oceanographic information;
  • new technologies like the WWW should be used to teach students of all levels, with real data, in realtime if possible;
  • multi-disciplinary, constructivist, problem-based learning approaches should be used to teach meteorology; and
  • meteorological services (like the Bureau of Meteorology) must be involved in this.
  • One of the most impressive things about the US presentations was the large number of teachers involved in AMS (American Meteorological Society) initiatives like:

  • The Maury Project (http://www.ametsoc.org/amsedu/maury/);
  • Project ATMOSPHERE (http://www.ametsoc.org/amsedu/aera/); and
  • The DataStreme Project (http://www.ametsoc.org/dstreme/).
  • The DataStreme Project provides realtime data for use in the classroom. Project Atmosphere Australia also produces teacher materials and teacher training. It has a web site (http://www.schools.ash.org.au/paa/) which provides resources and organises student activity weeks.

    Other impressive projects were high school field trips conducted, where students gained real, hands-on experience of practicing geology, geography or oceanography. As good as computer based learning can be, it couldn't replace these projects.

    CAL packages were discussed, including the EuroMET project and work by Ian Bell and Jeff Wilson of the Bureau of Meteorology's Training Centre. This material is designed in ToolBook, a PC based development tool which is soon to have some web functionality. EuroMET represents a significant collaboration for producing materials which are uniform in appearance and structure in several different languages for use at university level. The Bureau's material could be used at several levels, and encompasses a wide range of pedagogical strategies. A CD-ROM should appear soon with these materials. Some packages will be available soon on the Bureau's web site (http://www.bom.gov.au/) and some already appear on the CALMET web site (ftp://ftp.met.ed.ac.uk/calmet/) and are included in the UniServe Science database (e.g. the Clouds package).

    It was one of the best conferences that I have attended, certainly gaining a lot of ideas for my own work. The interaction after hours and the excellent activities (Blood on the Southern Cross at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat and Science in the Pub, a debate on the Greenhouse effect) made it enjoyable as well as useful. The next meeting is in Madrid, Spain in 2003. I hope to be there!


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    UniServe Science News Volume 14 November 1999

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